Monday, July 14, 2014

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This salad is yummy.  I know because I ate it for lunch (and dinner) yesterday!  A friend at school made this for a potluck at the end of the school year, and I have made it several times this summer.  It's a great cold summer salad that fits in perfectly at any barbecue or potluck!  I think what I love most about it are the contrasting textures and flavors- the crunchy red onions and cucumber contrast nicely with the creamy chickpeas and feta cheese.  The refreshing and sweet cucumber and tomato pair well with the salty feta and olives.  The Greek dressing brings it all together nicely and gives just enough lemon and oregano flavor without being overpowering. Visit Closet Cooking for the recipe!  

Samoa Bars

I made these bars over the weekend and they were a hit with my friends!  If you are a coconut fan, you will LOVE these rich, dense, date-sweetened, creamy, gooey, coconut-filled bars!  The only added sugar comes from the thin layer of chocolate on top, so you can feel good about eating these treats that have lots of healthy fat and fiber.  I just wouldn't go eating the whole pan... make these to share with your friends so they're not sitting around your house tempting you, because I guarantee they will be calling out your name from the fridge!

I found the original recipe on the fantastic food blog Eat Good 4 Life.  Check it out!  

No Bake Samoa Bars

Slightly adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

1/2 c dry roasted macadamia nuts
1 1/2 c almond meal
1 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
4 dates
1 T coconut oil (add more if the "dough" seems too dry)

12 medjool dates (about 1 1/2 cups), soaked in hot water
1/3 c full fat canned coconut milk
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 c enjoy life chocolate chips

1. Heat up about 1 1/2 cups of water in the microwave.  Remove the pits from the 12 dates for the filling and submerge them in the water, letting them soak while you make the crust.
2. In the food processor, process the crust ingredients until well combined.  Add more coconut oil if it doesn't seem to be coming together.  Press firmly into the bottom of an 8x8 in. pan.  Put the pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
3. No need to clean out the food processor here (just scrape the crust out with a spatula the best you can!).  Put the soaked dates in the food processor and process until they form a paste.  Then add in the coconut milk and process until smooth.  Next, add the salt and coconut and process briefly til everything is incorporated together.
4. Take your pan out of the freezer and spread the filling over the crust, creating a smooth layer.  Put the pan back in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave (I melt them on 50% power for 1 min, followed by 30 sec intervals, stirring each time I take them out until they are melted).  Spread the chocolate layer on top of the filling.  

6. Refrigerate the bars for several hours, then use a very sharp knife to cut them into pieces!  I cut mine into 32 small bars, which worked perfectly because these are very rich!  Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Pasta" Carbonara

Carbonara is a pasta dish made with bacon or ham, egg, and cream.  This version is a veggie-filled take on the traditional pasta carbonara, with several substitutions that make it very nutritious and incredibly delicious.  To be honest, it is actually very reminiscent of fried rice!  I'm pretty sure it's the peas and egg that give it that taste.  Either way, this is a unique dish that would be great served for breakfast, as a non meat-heavy main dish, or as a chicken side dish.  

"Pasta" Carbonara

1/2-3/4 lb. of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 candy onions (very small onions), minced (about 1/2 c onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen peas
freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks (I used yolks because I made biscuits with the whites the day before, but you could use 3-4 whole eggs instead!)
3 large zucchini or squash, spiralized

Cut bacon into small pieces and saute in a large dutch oven or high sided pot.  Once the bacon is crispy, remove the pieces but leave the fat in the pot.  Add the onion, cooking until soft, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. (This dish is very much based on feel- I don't have exact cooking times or temperatures, you just have to go by the look of the ingredients!)  Then add peas and saute until the peas are hot.  Sprinkle a generous amount of pepper on top of the peas.  Pour the egg yolks on top of the peas and stir everything until the egg yolks no longer look wet.  Then add the zucchini/squash noodles, and add the bacon back in as well.  Cook, stirring occassionally, until the "noodles" are soft.  For us, this made about 4 servings!