Summer Breakfast Quinoa Salad

breakfast quinoa 2Keen-wah.


Now that we all can pronounce quinoa, lets learn a little more about this tiny, fluffy grain. Well really I should say “pseudo-grain”. Quinoa is cooked and eaten like many grains, but botanically is related to beets, spinach, and chard. Weird, huh? Did you know you can also eat the leaves of the plant?

Quinoa is a nutrition powerhouse–a complete protein source, heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, good source of fiber, and rich in antioxidants. No other grain provides all of the essential amino acids like quinoa does, which makes it a great addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

This recipe is great because it can be quantified easily and modified to your liking with the fruit add-ins. I like to make enough to last for 2 days and always prep the salad the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning! Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor but can be rather bland so spice it up by cooking quinoa with a cinnamon stick, or maybe add in some ground ginger!

Have you tried any quinoa breakfast salads? What’s your favorite way to use quinoa–granola bars, casseroles, baked goods?

breakfast quinoa

Summer Breakfast Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup tricolor quinoa
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. chopped almonds
2 fresh apricots, diced
6 Bing cherries, stem and pit removed, cut in half
1/2 small Granny Smith apple, diced
2 Tbsp. golden raisins
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. honey
About 1 Tbsp coconut milk per 1/2 cup serving of quinoa salad, if desired

1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly with water, draining with a fine mesh sieve.
2. In a small saucepan, add quinoa, water, cinnamon stick, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while covered, then reduce heat to medium and allow quinoa to cook for 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork and remove cinnamon stick. Allow quinoa to cool completely.
3. Mix in chopped almonds, diced apricots, cherries, apples, and golden raisins.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together lime juice and honey. Add to quinoa mixture.
5. Add about 1 tablespoon of coconut milk per 1/2 cup serving of quinoa salad prior to eating. You don’t want the quinoa to become mushy, so only add coconut milk once ready to serve. Salad will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.

{Recipe Redux} Port Wine & Bing Cherry Pops

A recipe with spirit! Literally. cherry pops This month’s Recipe Redux theme is a lively one as we were challenged to use liqueurs, extracts, and other alcohol in our recipes. I’ve been wanting to make popsicles (haven’t made any yet this summer!), so this was the perfect opportunity to create something a little unconventional. cherry pops2 A couple years ago, I helped out with a wine and cheese pairing class at the Salud! Cooking School at Whole Foods and tried port wine for this first time. I wish I could remember the name of it because it was soooo good. Since then I’ve been in search of a similar port, but have learned a few things along the way about the different types of port wine. I prefer the Tawny variety, which is sweet dessert wine that’s fortified with brandy. Normally I pair Tawny with dark chocolates, but when I came across some perfectly in-season cherries, I thought this would be a match made in heaven for frozen treats! The out-of-place-but-totally-necessary ingredient in this recipe is coconut milk. Just trust me on this on this one. Add the coconut milk and don’t look back. You’ll be glad you did. Besides adding a some creaminess to the popsicles, it lends just the slightest coconut flavor that will leave people wondering what it is they’re tasting as they devour the frozen treat. How many popsicles you end up with depends on the size of the molds you have. You’ll have approximately 14 ounces of liquid to use for popsicle-making.

Port Wine & Bing Cherry Pops

2 cups bing cherries, cut in half, stem and pit removed
1/2 cup Tawny Port wine
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2 cup light coconut milk

1. In a small saucepan, heat cherries, port wine, water, sugar, and lime juice over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until cherries are softened. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
2. Puree cherry mixture in a blender. This should make about 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Pour liquid into a bowl or glass measuring cup and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.
3. Pour coconut milk into a small saucepan and add sugar. Allow sugar to dissolve into coconut milk over low heat. Once sugar is dissolved remove pan from heat.
4. Combine the cherry-wine liquid and the coconut milk in a pitcher or large measuring cup that will allow for easy pouring into popsicle molds. You should have about 1 3/4 cup of liquid total. Fill popsicle molds.
5. Let popsicles set in freezer for at least 8 hours. To remove popsicles from mold, run cool water over popsicle mold for about 60 seconds. You’ll see the popsicle start to release from the sides of the mold, then you can gently remove the popsicle.

Need more boozy recipes? Check out the other Recipe Redux submissions by clicking on the blue frog below! Stay cool!

{Recipe Redux}Lavender & Basil Summer Fruit Salad

The June Recipe Redux challenge was to make recipes bloom with floral flavors like lavender, rose, and other flowering herbs. This summer fruit salad has been elevated with the addition of lavender, basil, and fresh lime juice—you won’t be able to get enough!  You can make the syrup ahead of time and just drizzle over fresh fruit before serving. Be sure to enjoy this fruit salad within a day before the fruit becomes mushy.

I’ve been dreaming of other ways to use this simple honey-based floral syrup. It’s just begging to be used in a cocktail. What do you think?

fruit salad3


Lavender Summer Fruit Salad

Lavender-Basil Syrup (makes about 2 oz. of syrup)
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dried lavender buds (food grade)
1/2 tsp. Aristotle basil or finely minced sweet basil (see note)

1 cup watermelon cubes
1/2 cup blueberries
2 fresh peaches, diced
1 cup grapes

1. In a small saucepan, heat honey and lime juice over medium heat until combined. Allow to heat through for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and add lavender buds and basil leaves. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl,

*Note: I have this cute little Aristotle basil plant in my kitchen that I’m in love with. Yes, I’m in love with a plant. The leaves are so tiny that they don’t require chopping before adding to dishes, but have all the same flavor as the standard sweet basil plants with large leaves. You can certainly use the larger basil leaves in this recipe, just be sure to chop very fine.

fruit salad2

The Greek Peach

the greek peach

Summer seems to be in full swing, even though we technically still have two weeks until the official first day of summer. The days have been hot and humid in Nashville. With summer comes many great things in Music City: Musician’s Corner at Centennial Park, Live on the Green, Tomato Art Festival, neighborhood farmer’s markets, and the Peach Truck. Each week, I faithfully pick up a bag of sweet Georgia peaches from the Peach Truck.

My preferred method of peach consumption is Peaches & Ricotta on Toast, or just a good ‘ol peach by itself. Absolutely delightful. But if I have a few remaining peaches that are slightly past perfection, I throw them into a smoothie like this one. It’s a sin to waste a peach as good as these.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy summer peaches?

The Greek Peach

2 fresh peaches, diced
1/4 cup honey flavored Greek yogurt
2 fl. oz. Orange Carrot juice, or 100% orange juice
1/2 cup crushed ice (optional)

1. In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately.

{Breakfast Inspiration} Fried Egg, Avocado & Salsa on Toast

One of my favorite coffee shops in Nashville is the Frothy Monkey on 12 South. I could spend an entire day there, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between snacks (while working on very important things, of course!).

My go-to breakfast selection is the California–fried eggs on sourdough toast with avocado, sprouts, and salsa on the side. I use to be one of those people who thought salsa should never be for adorning your eggs. But when you have the avocado, the runny egg yolk (this is key!), and the slightly toasted bread, salsa is the perfect addition. But don’t use jarred salsa–ever. If you don’t want to make salsa at home, you can find great salsa in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and these often taste much, MUCH better than what you will find in a jar. One of my favorite brands is from Garden Fresh Gourmet Jack’s Special Salsa.

california breakfast

runny egg

I make this quite often at home because it’s such a satisfying breakfast and so easy to put together. I use Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread because I love the texture, the health benefits, and because it holds up so well under all goods that go on top. Plus you get the lycopene from the tomatoes in the salsa, potassium and folate from the avocado, and protein from the egg and the bread.

1 slice Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain bread, toasted
5 slices of avocado
1 large egg
Alfalfa Sprouts

1. Coat a small skillet with cooking spray and set on high heat. Once pan is hot, add egg and cook to an over-easy state (once you flip the egg, you can turn the heat to medium to prevent over-cooking the yolk).
2. Place avocado slices on bread and mash slightly so there is an even coating of avocado. Add sprouts to your liking. Top with fried egg, then add salsa.

BAM! You’re done and now you can eat the masterpiece you just created and feel good about it.

{Recipe Redux} Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad

Not only is it finally spring, but also the time for graduation parties, bridal showers, and weddings galore. If you’re struggling to think of a dish to take to the next shower or get-together on your schedule, this month’s Recipe Redux theme will be a great source of inspiration!

strawberry goat salad4

This Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad is perfect for a Sunday brunch or celebratory party because it is so easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. What really puts the salad over the top is the homemade Blackberry Balsamic vinaigrette. It’s so simple to make salad dressing and vinaigrette at home with just a few basic ingredients. I love using fresh herbs, infused vinegars and olive oils in my homemade concoctions. Olive oil and vinegar shops are popping up in bigger cities, which is where I purchased my Blackberry Balsamic, but you can also order it online here. Regular balsamic vinegar would work just fine in place of the blackberry variety, just  add a teaspoon of honey to give a hint of sweetness. The walnuts could be substituted with pecans, and if strawberries aren’t in season, you can switch them out for dried cranberries.

Don’t forget to check out all of the other wonderfully appetizing ideas from the other Recipe Redux members! Just click the blue frog below the recipe.

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad

6 cups mixed greens
1 cup strawberries, sliced
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Black Pepper, to taste

1. In a large serving bowl, add mixed greens, sliced strawberries, goat cheese and walnuts
2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil and black pepper.
3. When ready to serve, drizzle vinaigrette over salad or serve on the side.

strawberry goat salad3

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

Try saying that three times in a row. Not so easy, huh? I promise preparing this dessert skewer is a whole lot easier. This twist on a classic dessert is perfect for a party with lots of people because there is no assembly involved! The guests get to have all the fun making their own Strawberry Shortcake Skewers and you won’t even have to wash dessert plates! Are you wondering if this could possibly get any better? strawberry shortcake skewers Because it does. Homemade whipped cream takes this basic dessert to the next level. Again, super easy but it will knock your guests’ socks off. You could also add a few more elements to this sweet kabob like brownies, other fruits, marshmallows, and even some melted chocolate for drizzling!

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

You will need:

pound cake

Strawberries, washed and quartered

Pound cake, cut into 1/2 inch squares (I purchased my cake from Whole Foods)

8 oz. heavy whipping cream, chilled

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Homemade Whipped Cream

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until firm peaks form.

whipping cream

The cream is still frothy here, but after a couple minutes, the magic happens….

whipping cream2

The cream becomes firm, forming ripples.

Food on a stick is just so much more fun! Have you made any unusual skewers or kebabs that work well for parties?

Louisiana Bayou Shrimp Boil

Just in time for the Oscars, this month’s Recipe Redux theme is Oscars in the Kitchen! If you’re hosting an Oscar party this coming Sunday night like I am, be sure to jot down some ideas from all of the Recipe Reduxer’s to help plan your menu. When the theme was announced at the beginning of the month, I actually hadn’t seen any of the Oscar-nominated films, so that was step one for me. Beasts of the Southern Wild was at the top of my “must see” list, which worked out well for the purpose of Recipe Redux since food pops up throughout the film and it is set in the Louisiana Bayou, an area with one-of-a-kind cuisine.

I instantly knew what I wanted to do. Have you ever been to a crawfish/shrimp/crab boil? If you said no, put this on your list of things to do for the summer! It is so much fun to stand around a big table with a pile of good food and just dig in with friends!  Fresh seafood, potatoes and corn on the cob, and finger lickin’ good flavor…what more could you want from a meal? I had to make mine spicy since this is a Cajun-inspired meal, so the Zatarain’s Extra Spicy Shrimp Boil was my personal choice, but you can use the regular Shrimp Boil seasoning instead. I significantly reduced the amount of salt from the original recipe, but you won’t miss it if you use the Zatarain’s and the Old Bay seasoning.

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shrimp boil4

Louisiana-Style Shrimp Boil

Adapted from Gourmet: Spicy Boiled Crabs, Shrimp, Potatoes, Corn and Garlic
Serves: 6

2 garlic bulbs, left whole
2 lemons, quartered
1 packet Zatarain’s Extra Spicy Shrimp & Crab boil
2 Tbsp. table salt
1 onion, cut in half
2 lb. red potatoes, quartered
6 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
2 lb. large shrimp, unpeeled (I used 31/35 count shrimp)
1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning


  1. In a large stock pot, bring 3 gallons water to a boil and add garlic, lemon, Zatarain’s Shrimp Boil packet, salt, onion, and potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  2. Remove potatoes from stock pot with a slotted spoon and place on large serving platter. Cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Return water to a boil and add ears of corn. Boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove corn cobs from stock pot with tongs and place on platter with potatoes. Cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Return water to a boil and add shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes.2013-02-17 17.55.01
  6. Remove shrimp from stock pot and add to platter with potatoes and corn. Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning and enjoy right away.

To make it more casual and authentic, serve the shrimp boil on newspaper or on a brown paper sack.  No utensils required for this dish—just use your hands!

For all of the Recipe Redux recipes, click the link below!

Lime-Basil Cookies: Perfect Summer Cookie

I’m all about fresh herbs in the summer months. It’s great to step out on my porch, pick some basil and then make delicious things like these Lime-Basil Cookies. Not the traditional way to use basil, but I’ve never been much of a traditional person either. And lucky for me, these non-traditional pairings of ingredients are one of the hottest food trends currently (so says the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade), which means there are a lot of people exploring some crazy ingredient combinations!

I found this recipe on Big Fat Baker, and she actually adapted it from Chasing Delicious. Isn’t it amazing how we share all these wonderful recipes with people we will never meet or know? I love it. So I actually tweaked the recipe from Big Fat Baker a bit (because I am physically unable to follow a recipe exactly–I’m so rebellious). I cut back on the salt, added a little lime juice, and only added 2 Tbsp. of basil. But if you check out these other two bloggers and their recipes, you can choose which one fits you best, or be a rebel and change it up! I’d love to hear if you make any alterations to the recipe, so please leave a comment!

And P.S.: The lime flavor is more predominant in these cookies, which is why I chose to change the recipe title!

Lime-Basil Cookies

Recipe adapted from: Big Fat Baker

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp very finely chopped fresh basil
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicon baking mat.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Mix until creamy.
3. Add egg, vanilla, lime zest, lime juice, and basil to sugar mixture. Mix well.
4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt to wet mixture and mix until incorporated.
5. Using 1 Tbsp of cookie dough, shape into balls and place on baking sheet, 1 inch apart.
6. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, then place cookies on cooling rack. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Layered Summer Pasta Salad

On weekends, I try to make life easier by coming up with a list of lunch and dinner ideas, that way I can go ahead and do my grocery shopping and any preparations ahead of time. Planning ahead is the key to eating healthier! This weekend I’m craving my layered summer pasta salad. Simple, colorful, fresh. I was feeling a little adventurous today and decided to add some pea shoots!

Layered Summer Pasta Salad

1 cup whole-wheat penne pasta
1 cup cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick then quartered
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup pea shoots, roughly chopped
1/3 cup Italian dressing

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
2. Layer ingredients in a clear bowl starting with the pasta and finishing with the pea shoots.
3. Drizzle dressing over salad and mix well before serving.