Eating with the Armstrongs

Happy Fourth of July week! We are headed to the beach with some friends today and I couldn’t be more excited for some time to relax and to get a much needed tan. I’ll be making my recipe below for Grilled Teriyaki Chicken in kabob form for our Fourth of July feast along with my Zesty Black Bean Dip that I posted last week, and will probably include grilled corn and fresh watermelon for sides! Yum!

We’ve enjoyed the recipes below this summer-I hope you try them out!

Perfect Peach Iced Tea  We love sweet tea all year around, but especially in the summer time! And I’ve been completely obsessed with peaches this summer, so this tea really hit the spot for refreshment. I like how the simple syrup can be served on the side so that people can add it as they choose.

Grilled Veggie Burritos The Pioneer Woman always has great recipes, and this one is super easy and delicious. Grilled vegetables are another summer food favorite for us. You can easily swap out the white rice for brown rice or quinoa.

Artichoke Pesto I really enjoyed this flavorful take on pesto. Delicious on pasta, but also on a sandwich, grilled chicken or other veggies.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken  The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful and tender it will be! The whole day or even over night is the best way to go. As you’ll see, I used salmon for the original recipe, which is incredible as well. Make sure to boil the marinade rather than throwing it away so that you can use it for an incredible sauce over rice, cous cous or quinoa. You’ll need to bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer for ten minutes since it was used with raw chicken. But after that, it’s safe to consume! My only change is that I used a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard instead of the white wine and ground mustard. The Dijon provides a similar flavor profile if you don’t have wine on hand!

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Enchiladas I could eat the sauce for these guys by the spoonful! What’s better than roasted red pepper? A few swaps for this recipe:

-swap 2 red peppers for the poblanos, but roast for the same amount of time

-exclude the bread crumbs in the sauce

-swap half a 28oz can of whole tomatoes in their juice for the chicken broth

-swap the black beans for 2 cups of cooked chicken

-to make it a little lighter, I sprinkled a 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top rather than 1 cup.

Quinoa Salad This is my all time favorite quinoa salad! To mix it up a little, I used a roasted poblano pepper (roast at 425 for 3o minutes, allow to cool, remove skin, chop) instead of the red pepper. I also added half a can of black beans for added protein. Delicious!

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Eating with the Armstrongs

You know those people who are just comforting and refreshing? Being with them is easy, a breath of fresh air? This week we’ve spent time with two different couples who bring us so much life.

One of those couples is my parents who visited for the weekend from Dallas. We laughed, we shared deep conversation, we ate, we worked in the yard, and overall we just relished in each other’s company. My parents are two of the world’s best.

It also comes in handy that they enjoy yard work (or at least we say they do) because Matthew & my dad picked up 23 massive bags of leaves and my mom and I planted some flowers and ferns in a garden bed that needed some love.

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The other couple is a husband and wife from church that we are just getting to know but who are two amazing people. I told them tonight that they need to name their house “the refuge” or “the haven” because every time we go, that’s just how we feel. And I really need to tell you the menu of the dinner they prepared because it was divine: steak, homemade challah bread, grilled avocado, grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted potatoes and a spinach and feta salad. Now that was glorious enough, but dessert was over the top: homemade strawberry pop tarts with homemade vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit. The pop tarts were flaky and buttery and the vanilla ice cream was sweet and perfect.

But even more refreshing than the food was the conversation. Conversation is an art form and tonight it was woven together with strands of good question asking and stories and life-stirring wisdom.

Who in your life do you need to set the table for, think of some good questions, and invite over for an evening of refreshment? It doesn’t have to be fancy or as gourmet as last night, just thoughtful and genuine. Here are some recipes we’ve enjoyed lately to help you plan:

Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Bake from Two Peas & Their Pod
A yummy & healthy tex-mex inspired casserole. You really won’t miss the meat but you could easily add some cooked chopped chicken or cooked ground beef to make it heartier.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Our Best Bites
No butter and no wheat! These cookies are sweet and decadent with just a couple of ingredients.

Scrambled eggs with Smoked Salmon from Pioneer Woman
Wow! These are so scrumptious and add a little bit of gourmet flare to your scrambled eggs. I made my eggs using my tip for the best ever eggs.

Collard Green Falafel with Hummus from Minimalist Baker
Don’t be afraid of collard greens. They are a great leafy green with a bit of a spicy bite similar to arugula. This is a fabulous vegan and gluten free falafel recipe, best served with lots of hummus.

Warm French Lentils from Ina Garten
I’ve recently discovered my love for lentils. They are super healthy, filling and inexpensive. This recipe is packed with flavor and you can easily add whatever vegetables you want to. It’s definitely one of my new favorites and Matthew loves it too.


Quinoa, Red Pepper, & Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

What a wonderful day. It’s currently raining outside and I’m drinking a big cup of coffee in my favorite pink mug from Anthropologie that my sister gave me for Christmas. I don’t work on Fridays (I’m a nanny), so today is my “get things done day.” Cleaning, which includes vacuuming, laundry, dusting, cleaning out the refrigerator, & possibly mopping; picking up all the clothes that have somehow gathered on my closet floor; running errands; possibly going for a jog; and my favorite: sharing recipes with you!

This quinoa salad is really really great. My sister introduced me to one of my very favorite cook books, Power Foods. I love it because it’s full of recipes that truly are good for you and made from 38 highly nutritious ingredients. But man, every single recipe I’ve made from here is FULL of flavor. This salad is no exception.

Do you know about quinoa? I hope so! First of all, it’s pronounced KEEN-wah. And secondly, this tiny little guy is a kind of seed, not a grain, so it’s gluten free and packed with tons of protein, fiber and other good-for-you vitamins. But, like I said before this isn’t one of those healthy-but-terrible-tasting recipes. It’s healthy alright, but the flavor is delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I like hamburgers and pepperoni pizza and even fried ice cream at the fair, but there is just something that feels so great about eating healthfully AND deliciously.

Oh and Matthew loves this salad! Win! I served it as a side for dinner with blackened tilapia which sounds fancy but is truly easy. (Tilapia filet+Tony’s Blackening Seasoning+non-stick pan with olive oil+sauteed 2-3 minutes on each side=divine).

Try this! You’ll love it!

Quinoa, Red Pepper, & Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 

Slightly adapted from the cookbook: Power Foods

Serves 4-6 as a side dish (equally as delicious eaten the next day as leftovers)  

1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice (from 2 or 3 limes or lemons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt to tasted

2 3/4 cups water

1 1/2 cups quinoa

1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh corn

1 red bell pepper, seeds & ribs removed, diced

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large jalapeno, diced (ribs & seeds removed for less heat, if desired)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds, toasted

To make:

Whisk together lime or lemon juice, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oil, & 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Toast pumpkin seeds in either the toaster oven or under the broiler on low. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa, allow to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed the water. Turn off heat and fluff quinoa with a fork.

Put quinoa in a large serving bowl and add corn, red pepper, green onions, jalapeno, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and the dressing. Add salt to taste.

Cut avocado into slices.

Pile quinoa on plates, add avocado if desired and serve!