Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baked Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa and Feta

Earlier this week I pinned a bunch of quinoa recipes and one of them was a squash stuffed with quinoa and blue cheese (I think). I decided to make it last minute this morning while the kids played outside. I searched my pinboards for the recipe and couldn't find it. What board did I pin it to??? I do this all the time..."lose" pins. I would have spent some time looking for it, but Avery was starting to lose it and throw tantrums so I figured I needed to head out and get my ingredients before she melted any further. I figured I would just "wing it" and hope it turned out ok. I decided to just go to the nearest produce stand since I needed to get a bunch of produce since I was going to be making this other quinoa recipe for lunches this week for work. With that said I wouldn't have any blue cheese so I figured I would sub feta, which I had a bunch of. This turned out pretty good and it was really easy to make. Even the hubby who is not a fan of squash or quinoa for that matter (but he's trying to eat healthier) said it was "pretty good". I think next time though I'm going to try using butternut squash to add some color. The acorn squash and the quinoa are basically the same color and you can't really see the squash very well.

Gather it:
3 small acorn squash
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup of red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup of yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup of feta cheese (we like feta so you can certainly use a little less if you like)
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Make it:
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and boil 3/4 cup of quinoa with 1.5 cups of water in a small sauce pan with a lid. Once it starts to boil, simmer for 12 minutes until the water is gone and the quinoa has puffed up and has little "white tails". Mine typically still has a little it of water in the pot after 12 minutes, but I just turn the burner off, fluff the quinoa, replace the lid and leave it on the burner. Allow to cool.

2) Wash the acorn squash. Cut in half lengthwise and rub a small amount of olive oil. Place cut side up on a baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.

3) Scoop out the flesh of the squash while it is still hot so it will be easy to scoop out. Be careful not to tear the skin - it will be somewhat soft from baking. Place the squash shells back in the oven to help crisp out the skin while you do the next stop.

4) Mix together the scooped out squash, quinoa, bell peppers, feta, and salt and pepper. 

5) Place mixture into squash shell. I piled mine up and ended up not using one of the shells. Place back in oven and bake for another 10-15 min. 

I can't wait to have this for leftover lunch!!!

Can't beat $0.79 each for red and yellow peppers at the produce stand! It's normally over $1 at Publix. I spent just under $10 and got a bunch of produce!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/ Spinach

It's after midnight and I just finished making and devouring this salad. I do feel a little bit guilty for eating so late, but in my defense it was a healthy salad and I just couldn't help myself. I was text messaging all night with a friend whose mother has to go on an unprocessed diet and was having to eat a lot of brown rice. I suggested trying out quinoa and shared with her my tropical quinoa granola recipe and fried quinoa (think fried rice) recipe. The more we talked about food, the hungrier I got. Then I went to the kitchen to take a picture of the bag of quinoa I use so she could see what it looked like and before I knew it I was scooping some out to cook. I had no idea what I would add to it since we haven't gone to the grocery store since last week! After some rummaging, I had a pile of ingredients and started to chop my veggies and cook the quinoa. Then my heart fell as I realized I didn't have any lemons for my dressing (I was going to make a simple lemon/olive oil dressing). But a bottle of white wine vinegar that was tucked way back in the corner of my cabinet saved the day. As I cooked, I kept sending my friend pics and she will now be making this tomorrow since she also has all the ingredients. You probably do too!!! It's so easy and yummy!

Note: 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa will make about 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Those tiny little things expand quite a bit! 

Grab it:
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
4-5 stalks of scallions, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
spinach leaves
2 large handfuls of frozen corn (I did not defrost it, see #2 below)
half of a tomato, seeded and diced (I would prefer grape tomatoes, but I was lucky to even have a tomato on hand!)
salt and pepper, to taste

white wine vinegar
olive oil

Make it:
1) Cook the quinoa: boil 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan with a lid. Once it starts to boil, simmer for 10-12 minutes until the water is all gone and the quinoa has puffed up and has little "white tails". 

2) Allow the quinoa to cool. If you are making this last minute, spread the hot quinoa on a plate and toss the frozen corn with it - it will cool the quinoa down quickly and the heat from the quinoa will defrost the corn. I'm so smart! lol

3) Combine all the salad ingredients except for the spinach in a large bowl. 

4) I didn't measure the amount of vinegar and oil I used, but used a rough 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil.  If I had to guess, I used about 3 Tbsp of white wine vinegar and 6 Tbsp of olive oil. Whisk (or in my case I used a fork) together until mixed well then drizzle over salad and toss salad.

5) Place spinach leaves on a plate and top with salad mixture. Enjoy...and try not to eat the rest of the salad.

this was the whole made a lot! I'm sure nobody will miss the midnight snack I had when it's time for lunch tomorrow (or rather today!)

*** UPDATE *** I had every intention of adding feta cheese to this dish last night, but I got totally caught up with trying to find a replacement for the lemon for the dressing that I totally forgot. So today for lunch I topped my salad off with some feta. It was delicious, light and yet very filling!!! Oh, and my girlfriend made hers this morning and she kept texting me and saying she can't stop eating it! lol