Quick Quinoa Salad

That pretty purple pepper from my Purples and Greens post found its way into this salad last week. I made this salad with what I had on hand. Quinoa is such a versatile salad base. You can add whatever is fresh from your garden – squash, cucumber, cooked limas – all kinds of veggies would taste great in this salad. Here’s what I used:

Quick Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions and cooled
1/2 can black beans
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Vinaigrette of your choice

1. Prepare your quinoa according to the package directions. I use my rice cooker on the white rice setting. Just one cup of dry quinoa expands to make quite a bit once cooked. I do keep a close eye on the rice cooker as it cooks, sometimes the quinoa sticks if I don’t catch it in time. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and allow it to cool in the fridge.

2. Add your chopped veggies and beans and toss thoroughly.

3. Add your vinaigrette. I recommend an Asian style dressing like a sesame soy, but even vinegar and olive oil with a little salt and pepper would work. I used Whole Foods 365 Soy Sesame Vinaigrette (not sure of the exact name.) Whatever dressing you use, be generous while careful – the quinoa will absorb quite a bit, but take care not to saturate it. It won’t be nearly as yummy if it’s soggy. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out very easily. Now I sound like my mom. :-)

When all was said and done, I used about a 1/2 cup of dressing. Mix your salad and dressing together, and place it in the fridge to chill just a bit more. This actually tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!

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Shhhh…Don’t Tell My Arteries.

I’m a from-scratch kind of girl. If I make it from the beginning, I know what’s in it. Simple as that. Normally I eschew all forms of box mixes except a select few that I know are all natural.

I’m also an artery-conscious kind if girl. Both my husband’s cholesterol and mine have a tendency to dance in the danger zone, so I’m usually very aware of the saturated fats in what I make.

Normally and usually. But not this past weekend. Shhhhh. Don’t tell anybody. This weekend I pulled out my Amish cookbook I mentioned back in the Jello post and found some more recipes to try. This little Amish lady loves her saturated fats and box mixes, apparently.

First, I did another round of layered jello, this time going with a Hawaiian Punch theme using raspberry, pineapple and lemon flavors in the layers.

Next up was Lettuce Bacon Salad. Oh my. Hold on to your hats.

Lettuce Bacon Salad

1 large head iceberg lettuce
1 head cauliflower
1 small onion
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 lb. bacon, fried and cut fine (I just couldn’t bring myself to make this much. I just fried up about 6 slices and used that.)

Wash and cut up lettuce in a large bowl. Break up cauliflower into small pieces and put on lettuce. Add chopped onion, cover with mayonnaise. Add sugar, then sprinkle with cheese. Add bacon and cover. Set in refrigerator overnight. When ready to eat, mix everything together.

Next, Triple Chocolate Cake Roll. Holy Box Mixes, Batman! Actually, this one could be adapted to scratch by making your own cake and frosting recipes. But I went mixes all the way on this one, just to see how it would turn out.

Triple Chocolate Cake Roll

1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding
1 3/4 cup milk
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
1 tub chocolate frosting

Prepare pudding with milk as directed on box. Combine cake mix, eggs, pudding and chocolate chips. Pour into greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool and fill with your favorite icing and roll up. Put chocolate icing on top (I used powdered sugar instead.)

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing, the favored condiment of elementary kids everywhere, needn’t be store bought. This super-easy homemade ranch dressing tastes a gazillion times better. The best part? I know every single ingredient that goes in it. No Polysorbate 60 needed, thank you very much.

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This tastes even better the next day. Works great as a dressing or a dip. Feel free to add more or less seasoning depending on your taste buds.

*edited to add on June 12, 2012: Today, I wanted to make a quick, small batch of this recipe for a salad but I didn’t have any sour cream. I used 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and I just eyeballed the spices and it turned out really yummy. All that to say, if you don’t have sour cream or don’t want to use it, try this with just the mayo and buttermilk – it’s richer and just a little thicker.