Archive | April, 2012

Zucchini, Grape and Cucumber Quinoa

10 Apr

When I think Spring, I think fresh fruits and veggies.  Without realizing it, I simplify all of my recipes to feature the food, instead of covering it in breading and spices.  This Zucchini, Grape and Cucumber Quinoa is the perfect fresh Spring meal.  It’s a light simple side for dinner, that would pair nicely with grilled chicken or seafood.  I also take it in for lunch; it’s perfect served at room temperature or chilled right from the fridge.

Zucchini, Grape and Cucumber Quinoa (2 servings)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 a small zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 of a large cucumber, chopped
  • 2 tbs feta cheese, crumbled
  • 12 red grapes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper

Bring your chicken stock and quinoa to a boil in a medium pot.  Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover to continue cooking for 12-15 minutes.  You want to make sure your stock is absorbed.  If you’ve never worked with quinoa, it will be cooked when the center is almost translucent and there’s a ring around the grain.  It’s delightfully chewy, and you can use it a million ways.  It’s also filled with protein and very filling.

While your quinoa is cooking, chop up your zucchini, cucumber and grapes.  Once your quinoa is finished, stir in salt and pepper, and add your grapes and veggies.  Then stir in feta cheese and serve.  Simple, huh?  I think the raw veggies give this dish a nice fresh taste.  The grapes add a bit of sweetness, and the feta is salty, and provides a nice balance.  If you need to turn up the flavor, try adding some lemon or fresh herbs.  I think parsley or dill would be delicious in this dish. 

Oatmeal Cream Pies and Easter Feasts

8 Apr

Happy Easter all!  When I was a kid, we would always get dressed up and go over to my grandparent’s house for an egg hunt, and afterwards eat deli ham, deviled eggs, and drink fizzy green punch (it’s a McG family thing-don’t ask).  Then my Mom took over, and turned Easter into one of my favorite feast days.  Now I can look forward to fresh seafood, tomato and burrata salads, spinakopita, Maryland deviled-eggs (Old Bay of course)!

I’m convinced my Mom can cook anything, and man can she create a table-scape.  She’s just not that into baking, which is where I come in.  This year, I wanted to find a recipe that would appeal to kids and grown up kids alike.  Something sweet, portable, and to appease the non-chocoholics in my life.  I bring you my take on Oatmeal Cream Pies just in time for Easter!

Oatmeal Cream Pies (makes about 40 cookies, 20 sandwiches)

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 12 oz Betty Crocker Whipped Fluffy White Frosting

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together with a spoon.

In a large bowl, mix the softened butter and brown sugar with a hand-held mixer for about 2 mins.  Add your eggs and vanilla to the wet mixture, and mix on medium speed until all of the ingredients are combined.  Slowly incorporate the flour and oat dry mixture into the wet ingredients, I added a quarter of the mixture at a time.  Combine dry and wet ingredients with your mixer on low until completely blended.  Stir in your raisins with the spoon.

Ok decision time!  Large or small cream pies?  I say go big or don’t eat, so went with the large size.  If so, put heaping tablespoons of the batter onto a silpat (can also use parchment paper) on top of your baking sheet.  If you want the smaller hand-held variety cookies, use a regular cereal spoon to dole out your batter.  Make sure to leave at least an inch to 1 1/2 inch between batter.  It will spread out while cooking.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for 14-16 minutes, rotating your cookie sheet half way through to ensure evenly-browned goodness.

Let your cookies cool on a wire rack for 5-10 mins.  Once they are cooled, use a spoon to spread about a tbs of the frosting between two cookies.  You guys will love these!  They have a melt in your mouth brown-sugary goodness quality and are easy to transport today’s Easter feast.

Spring Shrimp Easy Peasy Pasta

2 Apr

SPRING!!!!  I’m just getting back in town from a spring break of sorts.  I had the most incredible trip to Portugal with the boy (posts forthcoming).  The whole time we had perfect weather and I was dreading our return to gray and cold DC.  Then something wonderful happened!  We landed to temps in the 60s and 70s, and I realized Spring arrived right with me.  I felt my creative juices bloom and I’ve been itching to write ever since. 

Here’s a quick and easy “peasy” pasta just in time for warmer weather.  Enjoy!

Spring Shrimp and Pea Pasta

  • 1/2 lb of shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1/4 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 fist fulls of linguine (obvs not an exact science)

First put a small pot of water on high heat to boil.  Add pasta and cook at a boil for 7-8 mins. 

In the meantime, heat 1 tbs of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add 1 tbs of garlic and saute for a minute.  Season shrimp with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and then add to the pan of garlic.  Shrimp cooks up quickly at 1-2 minutes per side.  Wait until the color turns to a pale pink and tails start to curl, then flip onto the other side.  Once the shrimp is finished cooking, transfer to a plate and set aside.  Add frozen peas to the same pan you used for the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes.  This will give peas the same delish garlic and coating. 

Drain the pasta and transfer shrimp and peas to pot for the time being.  Heat store-bought pasta sauce (or you can make your own) in shrimp pan for 2 minutes over medium.  Pour pasta, shrimp and pea mixture into sauce and toss.  Let sit for an additional minute and then transfer to a bowl to enjoy.