Chipotle Taco & Quinoa Bowl

Chipotle Taco & Quinoa Bowl

Every day I pick my kids up at the babysitter after work and every day I get the same cranky question:

“Moooooom, what’s for dinner?”

They’re not even completely inside the car before they’re hounding me about what we’re having to eat.  And for the record, it’s not just a casual question.  There’s no “Hey Mom, how are you?  What’s for dinner?”  or “You’ll never guess what happened at lunch today!  By the way, what’s for dinner?”  No, there is none of that.  It is a daily query, raised with the explicit expectation that they will be disappointed, so it is therefore asked in a tone dripping with contempt.  Dripping, because there is so much disdain for the as-yet-unknown dinner, it can’t be contained by a simple question.  As they sit there in the backseat, every part of their being is exhibiting a hostility with regard to the dinner, that mind you, I haven’t even disclosed yet.  But when I respond with  “We’re having tacos!” then I get cheers and all is well…for the time being.

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Roasted Beet & Quinoa Salad with Arugula Pesto

Roasted Beet & Quinoa Salad with Arugula Pesto

Arugula pesto, you are one of my new favorite things.  

Sidenote: Arugula is also known as salad rocket, garden rocket, or simply, rocket.  Doesn’t that make you laugh?  What a funny name!  Apparently this name is due to arugula’s lightning-fast growth rate.  It makes me wonder if even I, Allison of the Black Thumb, could grow it.  But then, a plant that is fast-growing doesn’t necessarily make it an easy-to-grow plant.  And by easy, I mean that the said plant has to be able to survive and thrive through drought and intrusion of weeds, aka a general neglect on the part of the gardener –>me.  

Pesto is a genius creation, don’t you think?  Basil, which can have sweet, floral undertones is way different than arugula but substituting arugula is just as good.  Instead of sweet and floral, you get grassy and peppery, which works very well with the earthiness of roasted beets.   Adding arugula pesto to some quinoa and beets makes a salad that is a fantastic combination of grains, vegetables, and nuts.  I first made this with barley instead of quinoa, and I loved it with barley too, but if you are gluten free, quinoa works just as well as is pictured here.  

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Provencal Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

Chickpea & Quinoa Provencal

It is my dream to visit Provence.  I imagine that I’ll find a quaint little house to rent with a bright blue door and window boxes overflowing with flowers.  The house will sit on a lane just a short walk from town (What town?  I have no idea; does it matter?  This is a dream after all.) and border a lavender farm so every night as I go to sleep with my windows open (blissfully unconcerned about mosquitoes or would-be intruders), the warm air will carry with it the soothing scent of lavender.  Next to my bright blue door, I’ll have a giant rosemary bush and whenever I pass by it I’ll pull off a few springs and stuff them in my pockets, because I have a strange tendency to do that.  I think it’s an excellent plan.  Who wants to join me?  You are extra specially welcome to come if you know French….since I don’t….and it would probably be helpful.  

Chickpea & Quinoa Provencal

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Rainbow Veggie Quinoa Cups

If you’re not already on the quinoa cup train, hop on board!  I first pinned these from Iowa Girl Eats and let them languish on my Breakfast board for several months before I finally gave them a try.  I make little egg fritattas in muffin pans all of the time but despite putting quinoa in just about everything else, I was skeptical about adding it to eggs.  In the end, I’m so very glad I tried them because they have become a staple in my weekly meal plans.   

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Potsticker Meatball Soup

I pack soup for lunch just about every day.  It’s easy to think of soup as strictly “winter food,” but I work with my husband who prefers to keep our office as cold as possible so every day is winter in our building!  In January it’s chilly and drafty and in August the air conditioning is cranked so high that you need two sweaters to remain defrosted enough to type.  Needless to say, I find hot soup to be welcome no matter the season.  

Recently, I made the potstickers from over at Damn Delicious and they were indeed damn delicious.   I was such a fan that I wondered if I could use the filling to make meatballs and float them in a soup kind of like an Italian wedding soup with an Asian twist.  So that’s what I did.  I modified the filling and shaped it into little potsticker meatballs and then used similar flavors to spice up the soup broth.  

Potsticker Soup.Meatball1

 

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Swiss Chard & Gruyere Quiche with Quinoa Crust

 

It is my general belief that more people would eat their vegetables if they came in colors as beautiful as those found in swiss chard.  The stems are practically hot pink!  Why wouldn’t you want to eat that?  Don’t even get me started on the fact that swiss chard as a great source of Magnesium as well as Vitamins K and C.  

Be that as it may, to some, the idea of eating a plateful of chard is less than appealing (Yes, Ray, I mean you).  Here, we pair some sauteed chard with caramelized onions and Gruyere in a quinoa crust.  The onions are sweet, the Gruyere is nutty, and you don’t even realize you’re eating something that’s actually really good for you, which is exactly how I prefer my food to be.  You could definitely substitute any old swiss cheese here, but one reason you can use so little is because Gruyere has a more intense flavor than your average swiss.  If you splurge for it, wrap up the rest and throw it in your freezer, because we’ll use it again in the future!  

SC Quiche.Collage

Do me a favor, and don’t wig out about the prospect of a quinoa crust.  It’s actually a fantastic idea.  I thought for about five minutes that I was the brainchild behind this whole concept, until I Googled “quinoa crust” out of curiosity and discovered that not only did I not create it, but I’m actually late to the quinoa crust party.  I wish I could adequately describe it with a word other than “chewy” or “crispy,” both of which seem entirely too prosaic for an idea that is so innovative.  Unfortunately for you, I’m getting nowhere on that front, so I suppose you’ll just have to give it a try and find out for yourself.  

If you have never cooked quinoa, don’t be afraid.  It is cooked much like couscous or rice. Do make sure to rinse your quinoa before putting it in the pot, otherwise it can have a bitter flavor.  Once cooked and cooled somewhat, combine it with a beaten egg and press the mixture into a pie pan to form your crust.  I found that getting the mixture evenly distributed was most easily done by using a large dry measuring cup to press the mixture down and around the sides of the pan.     

 SC Quiche.Crust

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