Tag Archives: vinaigrette

Resolutions. Really?

18 Jan

So it’s the beginning of the year, and the season of resolutions.  This is the time many folks decide to make healthy lifestyle changes.  People at work are buzzing about losing weight, eating better, detox potions, and avoiding fast food.  And, of course, I am no different.

I do not make new years resolutions.  I do, however, reflect on making  positive changes in the new year.  I too have been making an effort to eat a little healthier since ringing in the new year.  Getting kind of bored with my regular “go to” recipes, I have tried to energize my normal recipe repertoire by trying to put fresh new combinations together.  The other day I came up with a real winner.

I made a super healthy quinoa salad.  One day I took it for lunch at work.  Another day I had it in the morning after my workout for a healthy protein boost.  I do not limit my meals with traditional labels.    If I feel like chicken for breakfast, I eat that.  A bowl of cereal for dinner?  Sure. Why not.  So I enjoyed my quinoa all day.  And it was delicious.

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad!  Yum!

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad! Yum!

How did I make it?  I had about 2 cups of leftover quinoa, a handful of shredded carrots, a green onion, a half bag of spinach, and homemade vinaigrette in the fridge.  I tossed it together with a can of rinsed canned beets and Voila!  A healthful flexible meal packed with protein and veggies.  It had a nice crunch, great flavor, and a colorful appearance.

Vinaigrettes are easy to make and even easier to customize to certain tastes.  Want to try one?  Start with this.

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and stir vigorously with a fork.  Use to dress vegetables or your favorite salad.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I customize this recipe by using different vinegars and different mustards.  Some times I use honey instead of sugar.  If I am in a crazy mood I will add some red pepper flakes to heat things up a bit.

So anyway, this is the vinaigrette that I added to my quinoa salad.  Simple dimple.  And so good.  So as 2015 rolls on, I hope to make some more fresh and healthful dishes.  No resolutions…just a positive change or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Next…

25 Aug

I am a single mother that is short on time.  When I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Time is my most precious commodity at the moment, so cooking bigger sure helps in a time crunch.  If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  They can be easy to eat as is for a second meal, or used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes either in school lunches or to work with me for a second meal.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal.  Quinoa powered up morning oatmeal following an 8 mile bike ride.  It was a solid “recovery” breakfast.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  My high schooler used it to spread on his “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this drizzled over roasted veggies going into the oven.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy to customize ingredients and flavors to make even picky eaters happy.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing sandwich to take to work.  I wish I also had some of that leftover goat cheese too, but it was quite tasty as is.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, shredded chicken. (Nonleftover freezer item: frozen cauliflower). I actually pulled this from the freezer to make a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower was microwaved.  Everything was tossed together for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what you make with your leftovers!

This ‘n That

16 Jul

The weather is hot.  Summer is in full swing.  It is hot outside, and the air conditioning is blasting inside.  That adds up to one thing…time to take the cooking outside.  Fire up that grill!  Marinate and toss some tuna, chicken or tofu on the grill.  Cook a meal without heating up the house.  Oh, but wait.  There has to be a side dish to go with the delicious grilled food.  Hhhmm.  What is an easy cold refreshing summer side dish?  I have the answer and I just made it!  Try it!

Amy’s Summer Side Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced free onions including green tops
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 ounces feta cheese

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix vinaigrette and set aside.   In large bowl, combine quinoa through cheese.  Stir.  Add vinaigrette and stir to combine thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate.  Next step..enjoy!

This is an easy recipe to quickly toss together as a side dish. I had the leftover salad for breakfast the following morning after my morning workout.  It is a nutrient packed salad, and the ingredients can be easily substituted with any veggies on hand. Toss in some of this, a little of that.  Make a this ‘n that salad!  So go ahead!  Keep the energy bills low and take the cooking outside.  Toss this fabulous cold salad together and enjoy!

 

Fresh summer side dish.  Yum!

Fresh summer side dish. Yum!

Dressings just aren’t that hard!

14 Jul

Its time to step up here.  Beautiful summer vegetables are bursting out of gardens and farmers markets.  They can be fixed a million ways.  Vegetables can be steamed, sautéed, roasted, grilled, blanched.  The list goes on, but as the summer steamy weather is also upon us let’s go for something cool and refreshing.  Many veggies can be prepared then chilled, or eaten raw.  When we prepare vegetables that way we can also add a nice dressing.  And they just aren’t that difficult to create.  So let’s get busy!

I have passed along to you my bleu cheese dressing recipe.  Now let’s just focus on a simple vinaigrette.  Vinaigrettes are fabulous on a salad, but also on cold vegetables.  Like cooked fresh green beans?  Try cooking them, cooling them and serving them chilled with a lovely home made vinaigrette.  Once you get the hang of this super easy dressing, develop your own relationship with it, and let it reflect your own personal taste, I promise you will quickly become an enthusiast!  Soon you will be dousing your cucumbers and cold carrots with a light vinaigrette to reflect the season!

First, a word about vinaigrette.  Generally, the base is one part vinegar to 3 parts good olive oil.  You can use a bold vinegar like balsamic, a mild vinegar such as apple cider, or get a little crazy with grapefruit infused vinegar!  But best to start slowly and let your flavors grow and develop as you get the hang of making this.  Also, you can add a little lemon juice to your vinegar. Here we go.

  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 1 t. lemon juice (optional)
  • 6 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. Dijon mustard or dried mustard (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of fresh herbs in season, or dried, such as  parsley, chives, or tarragon.

Put vinegar in a bowl.  Whisk the vinegar with a pinch of salt.  This is the time to add your mustard if you prefer it in your vinaigrette.  Whisk until salt is dissolved.  Add other ingredients and whisk until well incorporated.  Sometimes I make my vinaigrette in a jar with a lid and shake it.  That is all there is to it.  Budget friendly, delicious, simple and easy.  Start making yours today.  Dress your salad or cold vegetables and celebrate the season with this chilled refreshing twist!

salad splendor

21 Apr

Spring is here…well for many of us!   Some folks are still braving some pretty cold weather, but spring is here, at least by calendar standards!  No matter what the weather outside is telling us, it is April.  Farmers markets, with beautiful fresh ingredients, are opening up. It is time to stroll through the farmers market and get some nutritious crisp vegetables.   Get ready to dress those vegetables up nice and pretty.  And put away that bottle!

Okay, so I am not going to put Hidden Valley Ranch out of business.  But I can certainly make a better salad dressing than they can!  I can tailor my salad dressing to any taste and to any salad.   Dressing out of a bottle?  How passé!  Showcase those beautiful vegetables and make a delicious salad dressing yourself!  It is simple and takes only moments.  Here we go!

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 c. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. vinegar (I get creative with this, as there are many flavorful vinegars to choose from. My favorite “go to” is balsamic.)
  • 1 T. Lemon juice
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. honey (optional)

Whip ingredients together with a fork.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve!

Salad dressings are great fun to adjust to taste.  This vinaigrette is just a starting point, so go have fun with it.  Put in a little more of this, a little less of that, and make the fresh spring vegetables on your dinner table shine.  I use this vinaigrette on sandwiches too.  I like putting lettuce, arugula, bell and banana peppers on a deli style sandwich, and this dressing really adds delicious bold flavor kick to a sandwich when drizzled over the vegetables.

So have a salad, or top off a sandwich, enjoy these lovely spring vegetables and dress them up with a yummy fresh vinaigrette!

Creamy Bleu Cheese Dressing

Raiding the fridge

29 Aug

Two of my children have left for college in the past week.  For years my house has been the place where my kids and their friends often gathered.  With all the hubbub around my house, it has been normal for me to keep the kitchen loaded with lots of food.  And I cook big, because I just didn’t know how many kids would end up around my dinner table.  Hear that noise?  Sound like brakes?  Yup.  Last week that came to a screeching halt.

My kids left for college, and so did their friends.  I am left with one little chickadee in my nest (if you can call a big honkin high school football player little…). Food consumption in my home suddenly has changed.  The result is a fridge is loaded with leftovers.  I am still getting used to my much smaller family unit (albeit temporary) and haven’t made the mental adjustment to downsize my cooking.

So dinner tonight (and probably tomorrow night too!) consisted of leftovers.  And wow wow wow!  It was good!  I raided the fridge for dinner.  This is what I piled up:

  • 3 kinds of greens (lettuces)
  • leftover chicken-I cut it into cubes
  • leftover sliced bell peppers
  • goat cheese (but any kind will do)
  • cashews

Then I made home made vinaigrette.  Here is my winning recipe:

  • 1 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup vinegar-I like apple cider vinegar for this one
  • 2 T. honey
  • 3-4 T. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

I whisked this together and poured it over the salad.  My 15 year old son and I noshed on this and it was delish!  It was so easy to create meals from leftovers, and quick.  Our meal was healthy!  In included animal protein in the chicken, a good source of calcium and plant protein in the cashews, fiber in the greens, vitamin C in the peppers, and was packed with vitamins and minerals.  The flavor was fantastic, and cleanup was minimal.

That’s it. Simple dimple.  Leftovers can deliver a fast meal loaded with flavor.  Try it!  Look in the fridge and freezer.  Get creative!  Use that leftover pasta sauce to add to cooked vegetables.  Use that leftover steak or chicken for a salad.  I have even used pimento cheese, which I may from scratch as a crowd pleasing appetizer, to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  Fabulous when paired with tomato soup!  Dig into those leftovers and dine with ease!