March Round-up: Travel, recipes, and forks

This past month flew by (this seems to be a theme for my year)!  So let’s jump right into a few things we’ve been enjoying, coveting, and anticipating over the last month. sunset

Travel 

After anticipating vacation for so long it is hard to believe it is already over. The beginning of the month included a quick road trip for Olivia and me to visit my precious new niece in Illinois. An eight-hour drive with a toddler while being almost four months pregnant seemed like a good idea until we pulled out of the drive way. I was concerned when less than an hour into the eight-hour drive she was asking, “we are close?”. All turned out all ok and ended with some sweet memories of Olivia holding her new niece and gave a little glimpse of what life might be like when the new baby arrives.

beach

After two years of grad school we took our first real vacation – no homework, no required reading, and no online check-ins. Just beach, sun, naps, and lots of great food with good company. Stay tuned for more next month on our trip to Fort Myers Beach.

Recipes

Between trips, planning for trips, and trying to get ahead at work I didn’t have much time for experimentation in the kitchen. I did, however, make plenty of time to try out a few recipes I had stowed away on Pinterest.

Recipes

Lemon and Chia Seed Yogurt Cakes – These delicious muffins made for a sweet start to Easter morning. I didn’t take the time to make the syrup and candied lemon slices, but they were still amazing with a bowl of fresh fruit.

Homemade Crescent Rolls – I have always wanted to make homemade crescent rolls, but had never taken the time because it is just so easy to open the can of the refrigerated kind. I finally did it! And they were delicious . . . not always the prettiest, but just as tasty.

Mushroom and Cheese Quinoa Cups – I love quinoa and am always looking for different ways to incorporate it at every meal. These mini cups were a great addition to the menu with a cheesy crust on the outside and even squeezed in some veggies for the little one.

Forks

Consider the forkOne of the joys of being done with school has definitely been my self challenge of reading a book a month. This month, the book of choice was Consider the Fork by food writer Bee Wilson. I am slightly obsessed with culinary history and this book was just the thing I needed to unwind from business books. Bee Wilson has a conversational voice so you feel like you are talking to a witty friend who shares your passion for all things food, cooking, and history. The book covers a wide range of topics and can sometimes feel a little disjointed when it comes to the idea of culinary evolution, but it is full of fascinating tidbits and things to fill your antique shopping list with.

Looking ahead

April is already jammed with activities and things to look forward to. Our daughter is turning four on the 20th so we will be doing a lot of birthday planning. And trying not to be the crazy parent that creates unrealistic expectations for celebrations.

After our March travels I had to start planning our next adventure. The next getaway will include a weekend away for our anniversary in Duluth. Close to home, but something I feel is totally untapped by us.

And the big project for April? Let the home remodel and construction begin!

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Quick summer quinoa salad

I feel like this week flew by. I haven’t had time to stop and think about anything, including meals. It is weeks like these where it seems it would be easier to just pick up the phone and order take-out or pop a frozen pizza in the oven. However, I know that doing either of those things probably wouldn’t make me feel any more awake or aware and I would feel crappy about what I ate.

It is weeks like these that I tend to get creative with what is in my pantry. That would be where this meal came from.

bowl of summer happy

Quick Summer Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa (3 cups cooked quinoa)

1 ½ cup water

12 oz. fruit salsa

½ cup roasted unsalted nuts

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

ingredients

Place the water and dry quinoa in a pot on high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the head, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Once the water is absorbed, remove from the heat and set aside.

While the quinoa is cooking, place the fruit salsa including any juices into a large bowl. Chop the nuts (we used roasted almonds) and add to bowl. Crumble in the cheese.

Add the quinoa to the dish and toss.

Serve with pita, naan, or top with chicken or other protein.

quinoa salad

4 servings                                                                ENJOY!!!!!

Note: I used mango fruit salsa from Lunds & Byerlys, which is made on site. I recommend a salsa made by your local grocery store or a store bought one that is low in sugar and salts. Or it is super easy to make your own and store for later use.

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A love affair with quinoa: Caprese quinoa bake recipe

It has been nearly 12 years since my love affair with quinoa started. I can still remember my food science class in college, learning about ancient grains and how we couldn’t figure out how to say quinoa (keen-wah).

Imagine trying to explain it to my friends who were mostly architecture majors. These were the kids puling all-nighters and living off of cheap pizza, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and loud music. Actually, looking back on it they were probably the normal ones for college students. Not like the nutrition majors and athletes I sat in class with. But I digress.

The relationship has endured, with quinoa finding its way into hot, cold and room temperature dishes. Breakfast, snacks, and dinners have been known to feature the tiny grain. As an active person who isn’t much of a meat eater, this grain has been a big player in my healthy eating. For a grain, it is higher than average in protein, high in essential amino acids, full of vitamins and minerals, and even has some calcium in it.

Even though I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say I’ve made over 50 different quinoa dishes this one is my favorite.

Caprese quinoa bake

Caprese Quinoa Bake

Adapted from Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest

Serves 4-6 (great for lunch the next day!)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup of jarred pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil, cut into ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Heat tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large saucepan until the tomato paste has incorporated.

2. Once incorporated, stir in almond milk, parmesan, chopped spinach, salt and pepper.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa. Fold in the shredded mozzarella and half of the tomatoes, and half of the chopped fresh basil.

4. Spray an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the quinoa mixture in. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds and the remaining tomatoes.

5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

6. Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil ribbons. Let sit five minutes before serving.

Enoy!

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