Instead of posting about crafts, I am going to post a recipe that is one of our favorites. I actually wrote this a while ago, with some background about the inspiration as well as the full recipe. I will make it soon and update this with a picture. Enjoy!
My mother was a stay at home mom. It was great for me and my sister, since she was always there to help us with homework or take us to various activities. Looking back as an adult, I realize that we definitely didn’t appreciate all of her hard work or the fact that we were (most likely) slowly driving her crazy. Don’t get me wrong...we helped around the house. No one had more chores than we did and they were never suspended. If we had friends over, they either waited or helped which seemed so cruel at the time. However, so many things that made no sense to me as a child or young adult are so clear to me now, and none more so than the fatigue and aggravation that comes of being the main cook for your family. Our immediate and never changing answer to the question “what do you want for dinner” was “I don’t know.” It took almost 30 years for me to understand the silent rage that those 3 words can incite but now that I am the one trying to put a nightly meal on the table, not many things irritate me more than that response. How can anyone have no preference whatsoever about food? We all have likes and dislikes...why can’t we voice them? I would rather make a special trip to the store for an ingredient I am missing than to get no input at all about what I cook for my family. Karma, you are a giant bitch.
The real tragedy of my youthful indifference was that my mother is a fabulous cook. She can make anything and rarely uses recipes. One of her specialties was and is something we have charmingly termed “trash soup.” The name was no reflection on the taste...trash soup is amazing. Mom would simply empty all the leftovers that may otherwise go bad and combine them into shockingly wonderful soup. We continue to tease her about her soup, but it is still one of my favorite comfort foods.
One night, deep in the throes of a “woe-is-me” session about the dinner plan that just wasn’t materializing and the lack of input from my spouse, I took inspiration from trash soup and Southwest Quinoa Salad was born. I gathered some lonely vegetables from the fridge, some leftover cooked chicken breasts and quinoa and created a dish that can stand alone or be a side. It is versatile and quick, requiring only the time it takes to chop veggies and/or cook your chosen protein, which is a must when you have a hungry toddler. It is easy to keep vegetarian if you so desire and can be adjusted to suit your particular tastes or available leftovers. If it saves you even one night of dinner frustration then I have done my good deed for today.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
(All ingredients and amounts are adjustable according to taste.)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I sometimes substitute 2 cups of edamame for a veggie version)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2-3 medium bell peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2-3 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin (I LOVE cumin so this may be too much for some people)
salt to taste
fresh cilantro and/or avocado (garnish, optional)
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. Most of the time, you will combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water, bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Some quinoa requires rinsing before use, so be sure to read the instructions.
- While the quinoa is cooking, chop chicken and veggies and rinse beans if you haven’t already. Combine all veggies and proteins in a large mixing bowl.
- Add cooked quinoa to bowl with veggies and proteins and top with all remaining ingredients except garnishes. Stir until evenly mixed.
- Serve in bowls while warm or refrigerate and serve cold. Garnish with fresh cilantro and/or avocado slices.
All veggies and proteins can be cut, rinsed and/or cooked in advance, making assembly much faster. Obviously, you can add, take away or substitute almost any veggies or proteins in this dish. I have made this dish with many variations and usually get rave reviews. It is a great make ahead dish for pot-lucks or picnics and keeps well for several days in the fridge. Because it is entirely veggies, lean proteins and grains, it is also good for you as long as it is consumed in moderation.