Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

A lemony Middle Eastern salad that uses quinoa instead of traditional bulgur to put a twist on a classic. Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is a great picnic or BBQ side dish that gives you a boost of protein with the quinoa and a bite of freshness with the mint and parsley.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe

Over the next week I am going to put out some Memorial Day weekend inspiration! Many of us will be barbecuing over the weekend and you shouldn’t neglect your side dishes people. Especially when they are this easy.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa is a grain that is very rich in protein and one of the healthier options when it comes to grains. It makes great cold salads like this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad or could be used in place of white rice in a hot dish. If you think quinoa is bitter than you probably aren’t rinsing it well enough before you cook it. You have to rinse your quinoa and then cook it to get that taste away. Also quinoa will take on any flavor you give it! In this case a lemony herb dressing covers the quinoa to make this healthy side dish or even lunch.

Here is the first of my Memorial Day Weekend Party Ideas!

What makes this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad even better is the fact that you can make it a head of time. Either put the dressing on before you serve it or you can dress it up to one day in advance, any longer and it will loose it’s texture.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad 

What you need (Serves 6-8):

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rinsed and cooked quinoa according to package, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 1 hot house or Persian cucumber, seeded, unpeeled, and diced small
  • 2 scallions (aka green onions), white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

What to do:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package, don’t forget to rinse. *If the quinoa is cooked and there is excess water in the pot drain it. Once the quinoa is cooked and slightly cooled add the lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  2. While quinoa is cooking prepare your vegetables into small uniform cuts: tomatoes and cucumber. Next, chop your herbs.
  3. In a large bowl combine scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the quinoa into the large bowl and mix well. Can be made up to one day in advance. You can also leave the oil and lemon juice off until right before serving if making a few days in advance. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe

Enjoy your Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad!

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Asian Pasta Salad with Very Teriyaki

An Asian Pasta Salad with edamame, red cabbage, shredded carrots, and very teriyaki dressing!

Asian Pasta Salad - Very Teriyaki

It’s Spring and that means finding cold salad dishes that can be made in advance that are healthy and so easy to make.

I first had this pasta salad last summer and have been literally been thinking about it ever since. I really do not like pasta salads that are based with mayo – I find them so heavy! This can be a problem when all summer long you go to BBQ’s and people serve pasta salad that is made with mayonnaise! You are much better off making your own pasta salads as you can control what ingredients go into it.
Asian-Pasta-Salad-Very-Teriyaki

I love anything that is teriyaki and asian inspired. One of my favorite marinades is Soy Vay’s Very Teriyaki Marinade and Dressing. It is great to marinate your proteins in over the summer before you throw it on the grill. Of course making your own fresh marinade is always a great option, but sometimes we need easy meals, and this sauce does just that.

This asian pasta salad would be great with whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta, traditional bow ties pasta, and possibly even zoodles. You can also pick your favorite “add-ins” to customize this pasta salad. I went with edamame, red cabbage, and shredded carrots. But green peas, bell peppers, and peanuts would make a great addition as well.

Edamame, Carrots, Shredded Red Cabbage
Edamame, Carrots, Shredded Red Cabbage

I hate having half a box of pasta that just sits in the pantry so I used the whole thing. It makes a lot, which is great for leftover night!

Serves 4-6

Asian Pasta Salad with Very Teriyaki 

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 box of bow tie pasta (12 ounces)
  • 1 bag of frozen shelled edamame cooked according to package
  • half a head of red cabbage shredded thin (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup of Soy Vay Very Teriyaki Marinade and Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

What to do: 

  1. Cook the pasta according to package, al dente, and let cool to room temperature.
  2. While pasta is cooking whisk together the Soy Vay Very Teriyaki Dressing, rice wine vinegar, and chili oil in a large bowl. Put to the side.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage, carrots, and edamame to the dressing mixture. Toss in the cooked pasta until well mixed. Garnish with sesame seeds.
  4. Eat at room temperature or put in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat!
    Asian Pasta Salad

It’s that easy.

This asian pasta salad would also make a great lunch, picnic item, side dish at dinner, or to have at at BBQ.

Let me know what your favorite pasta salad recipe is!

Don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

~Hunter

 

How to Make Hasselback Potatoes

A Hasselback potato is a Swedish version of a baked potato. The Hasselback potato is a mixture of a baked potato and crispy oven fries, a perfect combination.

How to make hasselback potatoes

I remember seeing an episode of the Pioneer Women and she made something similar to a Hasselback potato and I thought to myself what is that? With a little research I quickly found out they had a name and would soon become my new favorite version of a baked potato.

The Hasselback potato got its name from the Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. Traditionally the hasselback potato may be served with heavy cheese and breadcrumbs. Thank goodness this idea to cut the potato like an accordion was invented because it is so smart!

My version of the hasselback potatoe is sprinkled with a dried herb and garlic mixture which adds a lot of flavor to the potato. I also use little butter pieces cut up and placed carefully in between the cut potato before it bakes. Some recipes even pour a little heavy cream over the potato for extra creaminess – to make this recipe a little healthier I skipped that step.

How to Make Hasselback Potatoes (Serves 2)

What you need:

  • 2 potatoes small to medium size potato per person
  • 4 tablespoons of butter cut into small slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • garlic powder to taste
  • salt and pepper

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash your potato.
  2. Cut the potato into very thin slices but you have to make sure it’s not too tight that you can’t fit the butter slices and also that you do not cut all the way through. Put 2 wooden spoons along the potato to make sure you do not cut all the way through and it helps guide the knife.
    how to make hasselback potatoes
  3. Put butter slices between every couple slices. Sprinkle with dried herbs, salt and pepper. (If you don’t want to use butter you can use any other type of fat that will help the potato crisp and brown in the oven)
    How to make hasselback potatoes
  4. Bake for 60-70 minutes until the potato is browned and crispy but cooked through. If you want to put a cheese topping take out 5-10 minutes before potatoes are done and top with toppings.
    how to make hasselback potatoes
  5. Enjoy!!

Serve as a side dish to your favorite steak dinner:

how to make hasselback potatoes

 

What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes? I’d love to hear!

-Hunter

Sauteed Artichoke Hearts – Finger food

If you and your family are looking for healthy alternatives to Game Day snacks, these could be it! Sauteed Artichoke Hearts are the perfect finger food to serve at any party!

Artichoke Hearts

This trip to Trader Joe’s I picked up Frozen Artichoke Hearts. When I was in California visiting my mom one of the nights we ate home they made these Artichoke Hearts. It was cheap, easy, and really good! I wasn’t even sure I liked artichoke hearts. You probably aren’t sure either. Most people who eat artichokes have them around the holidays for their family members stuffed artichokes. Those are good but you don’t eat the actual shell of the artichoke which I never understood.

Anyways, this is super easy to make which of course is the only way to go when you live a busy schedule. I think that is the beauty of frozen vegetables. I wouldn’t normally go with frozen over fresh but when it comes to Artichoke Hearts, that’s the way to go. After some research online, I have found that many people who try different brands of Artichoke Hearts prefer the Trader Joe’s over other competitors in super markets. This is because they stay fresh tasting and tender.

Trader Joe's Artichoke Hearts

You can serve these Artichoke Hearts as a side dish to your meal, change it up. Or go for an appetizer while you are waiting for everything to cook. I’m sure these would also be delicious roasted with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, lemon and parsley but today I decided to Sauté them in a pan.

I’m excited to find new ways to use artichoke hearts in recipes perhaps a stew, soup, or even a dip because they are really starting to grow on me. Now be careful if you are looking to make artichokes after reading this! Don’t just get any brand as the results may not be the same. If you are a Trader Joe’s fan add this to your shopping list and keep it in your freezer for simple, easy and delicious meals.

What you need:

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Artichoke Hearts
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • sprinkle of dried parsley or fresh if you have it on hand

What to do:

  1. Remove the artichoke hearts from the bag and rinse under warm water. Let sit in colander for a few minutes to defrost.
  2. Heat a saute pan with oil and then add minced garlic until lightly browned. Add in the defrosted Artichoke Hearts and sauté until they are hot, squeeze fresh lemon juice. Stop mixing and allow the Artichoke hearts to brown a little bit. Season with salt and pepper. (Don’t let garlic burn)
  3. Remove from pan and sprinkle with parsley. A delicious appetizer or side dish.
    Trader Joe's Artichoke Hearts

Oven-Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Bread Crumbs

Oven-Roasted Broccoli

More side dishes! I love having endless side dish option, each one a little different. Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables. When cooked properly it can be super delicious and nutritious.

If available, fresh vegetables are always better than frozen. I find that roasting vegetables is one of my favorite ways to serve broccoli. You don’t need to roast them to a crisp and remove all the nutritious value to get the flavors that roasting gives. The Barefoot Contessa is always roasting vegetables on her show and I love that. She understands how easy and simple it is. You don’t need to blanch your vegetables before roasting as many recipes online call for.

This recipe uses parmesan and Italian breadcrumbs to add some flavor and crunch to this delicious and tasty dish. The key to cooking vegetables perfectly is to not over cook them. I hate when that happens. You just need to take a little bit of the bite and rawness out of the vegetables and then it is perfect. This is also important because you leave more of the nutritious value that is in the raw vegetable. As you keep cooking it the nutrition goes away.

Serve this with your favorite protein for dinner like Salmon (see here for the best salmon seasoning), turkey meatloaf, or a steak.

I love this because of the zingy parmesan that adds a nice salty flavor and breadcrumbs which gives the broccoli a little bit of texture. Make this the next time someone calls your broccoli boring. 😛

What you need:

  • 2 heads of broccoli, stems removed and cut into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder to taste

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While oven is preheating prepare broccoli and rinse with water in a colander. Pat dry broccoli and place on a baking tray.
  3. Pour olive oil over broccoli and mix to coat. Once coated sprinkle over parmesan and breadcrumbs. By using the olive oil first this allows the cheese and breadcrumbs to stick to the broccoli. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to finish
    Oven-Roasted Broccoli
  4. Roast for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned but still tender. Serve with your favorite protein for dinner.
    broccoli

Roasted Sweet Potato Side Dish

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onions 

roasted sweet potato

There are so many reasons why sweet potatoes should be apart of your diet… but here are a few of my favorite reasons. Sweet potatoes are available all year, are inexpensive, and of course delicious. A simple ingredient that can be transformed so many different ways.

Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin B6, a good source of vitamin C which is important to ward off cold and flu viruses, especially in the winter. Vitamin C also helps produce collagen in the skin and helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity. Sweet potatoes also contain many other vitamins such as Vitamin, iron, and magnesium. So many health benefits!

Long story short, I need to include more sweet potatoes in my diet. Do you? If you are a fan of having a starch at your dinner table this may be the way to go. They are also naturally sweet so you do not need to add a lot of sugar to your potatoes if you like the sweet flavor.

The other day I ran out of olive oil and i wanted to roast a few things. I did have grape seed oil though so that is what I used. Grape seed oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes. It has a high smoke point and can be used safely to cook at high temperatures. I have seen many articles online that grape seed oil is deceiving and although it is packed with nutrients too much of it is not good for you due to the way the oil is extracted using an industrial process.

What to do for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onion: 

Peel and Cube 2-3 large sweet potatoes and slice half a red onion. Coat with 2 tablespoon of grape seed oil or olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Roast for 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees depending on the size of your potatoes, or until tender. A great side dish with little prep and packed with nutrition.

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Don’t have a Cranberry Sauce recipe you are happy with? Try this one…

homemade cranberry sauce

This is the best homemade cranberry sauce I have ever had! Thanks to the Pioneer Woman of course. 

I have been looking at Cranberry Sauce recipes for the past week deciding which one I wanted to base mine off of. Most of them were not to my liking, mainly because of how many cups of sugar they add! 2 cups! That is just way too much. This recipe was sweetened by pure maple syrup but I did not have 1 cup of pure maple syrup so I substituted agave nectar and it was still great.

You can make this homemade cranberry sauce in advance and then refrigerate it until you are ready to serve. I cannot wait to eat this on my Turkey!!! Then with leftovers on a turkey sandwich!

HomeMade Cranberry Sauce:

1. Rinse a 12 oz bag of cranberries in cold water. Pour into a medium size saucepan.
homemade cranberry sauce

2. Add 1 cup of cranberry juice, 1 cup of pure maple syrup (or 1/2 cup of agave nectar), half the juice of an orange (about 3 tablespoons), and the zest of the orange.
homemade cranberry sauce

3. Stir together and bring to a rapid boil on high heat. Once boiling lower heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until juice has thickened. Turn off the heat and transfer to a mason jar to store until Thanksgiving.

homemade cranberry sauce

Note: Pioneer Women says that it is possible your cranberry sauce will have a white foam after you cook it and store it. Mine did not, if this happens skim it off with a spoon if you care about appearance. Or you can leave it.

Enjoy this Homemade Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving you and your guests will love it!

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Another dish for your Thanksgiving Table…Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

mashedpotatoesThese potatoes are super simple and the garlic and chive gives the potatoes a delicious flavor. Mashed potatoes are something that we always find on our Thanksgiving table every year, along with 3 other types of potatoes… so much food! These are sure to please everybody though and have a creamy and tasty flavor.

I found many mashed potato recipes that involved the use of a lot of butter, buttermilk, cream. In this recipe I decided to combine a few that I have seen and use a little bit of butter, skim milk, and greek yogurt. The result is a crowed pleaser mashed potato recipe!

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes: 

What you need: 

  • 3-4 pounds of yukon gold potatoes peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of skim milk or more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 1 small container plain greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives to mix in and a little reserved for garnish.

What to do:

  1. Place potatoes in a medium size pot and cover with cold water and 1 large teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender about 12 minutes. Drain and put back into pot on the stove.
  2. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher once at desired consistency put burner on low and mix in butter, milk, and chopped garlic. Can be left on side while preparing the rest of the meal.
    mashed potatoes
  3. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Right before serving stir in the greek yogurt and chives.
    mashedpotatoesFinal product is a Thanksgiving side dish that everybody will love and could easily be doubled.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
roastedbrusselsprouts

This side dish reminds me of fall, and I love it! Anything roasted with a sort of blackened shell and tender on the inside is delicious. Brussels Sprouts are a great side dish to serve your family.

I know brussels sprouts aren’t for everyone and when I was a kid I wasn’t crazy about them. But now, I love them! This was my first time trying brussels sprouts with a little bit of bacon and it added a delicious element. Possibly a great side dish for Thanksgiving!

Also for people with kids out there, my nephew will eat roasted brussels sprouts, and loves them! So don’t just automatically assume your kids won’t eat it, let them try it! And same with any adults who say they don’t like them!

This recipe serves 2-3

Here’s what you need:

  • About a pound of cleaned brussels sprouts (I grabbed one of the small containers from the supermarket)
  • 2 pieces of thick cut bacon chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • splash of balsamic vinegar

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put halved brussels sprouts on the baking tray and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix in chopped bacon, salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
    brusselsprougs
  2. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brussels sprouts are browned and bacon is crispy. Serve immediately and enjoy.
    It does not get any easier then this for a tasty delicious side dish!

Russet & Sweet Potato Mash

potatomash

Mash potatoes made with one russet and one sweet potato that won’t leave you feeling guilty! They are easy to make and are great on a weeknight.

This recipe is unusual because you do not use one type of potato. Instead, I use a combination of potatoes which gives you the texture of traditional mash potatoes with the taste and healthy benefits of sweet potatoes.

I absolutely love these potatoes and I do not miss typical mash potatoes when I was eating this recipe. To add creaminess without adding cream or dairy I use almond milk. You won’t be able to tell the difference don’t worry!

You will need: 

  • 1 large russet potato peeled and cubed
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk * you could use skim milk or milk of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon if desired

What to do:
1. Prepare potatoes as noted above and put potatoes in a large pot with cold water.
2. Bring to a boil and let cook until tender about 20-25 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes and move them back to pot. Mash potatoes with potato masher or fork.
4. Combine mashed potatoes with butter, almond milk, salt, pepper, and cinnamon if you wish.
4. Serve warm and enjoy!

This recipe serves 4 people.