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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Short cuts - small-stuff-style

Here are a few more tips I've picked up from all that obsessive watching of Food Network over the years. (If HGTV is as good a teacher, I'll be building that backyard oasis all by myself in no time!)

  1. When going to someone's home for any kind of get-together, don't arrive empty handed.
  2. When a menu works, repeat repeat repeat! (Just not for the same guests!)
  3. If a shortcut won't impact the final product, TAKE IT!
In practice today -- 
Barry & Daphne & I are joining a friend & her parallel family (hubby + 13 mo old daughter) at a beach house in Melbourne (FL, not AUS) tomorrow. I asked to bring food for 1 meal + some extras. For my meal, I'm doing my ribs, corn & arugula salad menu (see "Nothing to Brag about"). I also decided to bring a couple easy muffin mixes and fruit for a breakfast, as well as a big lovely salad for lunch one day.

NOW - here's the recipe for that salad with some small-stuff-style short cuts:

Quinoa, black bean & chicken salad

3 cups cooked quinoa - 1 cup dry prepared according to bag directions*
1 can (14 oz) unseasoned black beans, drained & rinsed
8-10 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, chopped*
1 green pepper, seeded & diced
1 bunch green onions, whites & light green chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped*
1/2 cup Newman's Own Light Lime dressing

Cook the quinoa per package directions; meanwhile, prep your veggies and keep tossing them into your mixing bowl. Once the quinoa is finished, add it to the veggies, pour the dressing over, gently mix (so that you don't crush the avocado.)

Short cuts, tips & notes
Quinoa - First off - for those who don't know - quinoa is a whole grain, use it anywhere you would rice - it's easier and tastier than brown rice! Second, do rinse it! The directions tell you that saponins remain after processing, thet are a soap & leave a bitter taste. As I was rinsing, I noticed it actually foaming. So, yes - rinse it.
Avocado - if you don't know the easy route for chopping an avocado, here it is -- cut around the perimeter, twist. Fancy folk & pro chefs can whack the pit and pull it out with their knife. I usually just use a spoon to scoop it out. Today, I confess, I had to halve my larger half to get it out. Then you basically just make a checkerboard pattern with your knife (cutting all the way to the skin), then turn out. Little avocado cubes pop right into your salad! The skin is nice and thick/rough, so you won't hurt yourself as you hold it & cut it!
Cilantro - Not everyone likes it. These people are nuts, but they're out there, and I guess we have to respect them. I have a tendency to put in too much. Thus, I made a decision to leave it out & allow everyone to garnish as desired.
Other short cuts --- I went with grape tomatoes & green onions because there was less chopping that way. The canned beans are obvious short cut and one I'm super comfortable with. I'm less proud of my chicken short cut. I used Tysons All Natural Chicken Breast Tenders. Even though, they're breast meat and say all natural, there's just something funky about "tenders". BUT, I was able to cook them in the microwave & a few minutes later just shred them with my fingers. I figure by the time they've soaked with everything else over the next 24+ hours, they'll be no less delicious than if I'd started with a live bird. Ah, and the Newman! May he rest in peace. I simply cannot justify making my own vinaigrette when his is so delicious - and anyway, all profits go to charity. :)

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered quinoa this year. Love it. So yummy!