Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cranberries & Feta

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Quinoa and I have a tortured relationship. One that I am adament on mending. I have to admit, it may be my fault. Our introduction wasn’t entirely agreeable. I totally didn’t realize you were supposed to rinse quinoa, so the first few times I tried to force us to like this magical grain, we totally hated it. It tasted weird and soapy and gross. So, I left it alone for 2 solid years before realizing I was doing it all wrong. For shame!

Since, I’ve dabbled in quinoa. Adding it to bean burgers and turkey meatballs, letting it hang in the background, no longer hating it, but continuing to let it underwhelm me. Not giving it a fare shake. Recently, though, I’ve become obsessed with this “autumn couscous salad” from the deli of my favorite grocery store, New Seasons. I decided to remake it at home, but sub out the couscous for quinoa in yet another attempt at making it something we could love. And, hallelujah! I’ve done it!

This salad just gets me. It’s full of texture (my favorite) and perfectly balances sweet, nutty, salty, and tangy. I love the way quinoa retains some texture even after it’s cooked and sort of pops when you chew it. Plus it makes this salad so filling, making for a great lunch on its own.

[recipe]

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Feta

Make 4-6 servings

I like my vinaigrettes pretty tart and tangy, using a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and olive oil. If you like a smoother dressing, go ahead and reduce the vinegar by a tablespoon or so, to taste. The dressing also includes quite a bit of shallot, which makes for a chunky vinaigrette, but totally adds a ton of flavor to the salad without making for an overwhelmingly onion-y dish. There may seem to be a lot of vinaigrette, but the quinoa really soaks up the dressing. If you are worried, add half and see where you’re at before adding the rest to taste.

3 cups sweet potato, diced small (about 2 small sweet potatoes)

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped sage

1/4 cup finely diced shallot (about 1 medium shallot)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1-2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toss the diced sweet potato with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the sweet potatoes in an even layer on a sheet pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring once after about 15 minutes, until tender and some pieces begin to brown. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa well in a mesh strainer. Add it to a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the quinoa begins to boil reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Let the quinoa stand, uncovered for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

While the sweet potatoes and quinoa cook, mix up the dressing. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the shallots, with the red wine vinegar, remaining olive oil, mustard, maple syrup, the remaining salt, and pepper. Shake well to combine.

Add the still warm, cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl and combine with the dressing. Fold in the cooked sweet potatoes, spinach, cranberries, pepitas, feta, and sage. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. [/recipe]

Recently at Betty’s: Slow Cooker Chicken with Apples & Crème Fraîche and Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Enchiladas

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Chicken Bacon Ranch Enchiladas

 Chicken Bacon Ranch Enchiladas

I have a couple low-brow vs. high-brow chicken dishes to share with you today!

The low-brow is a super easy Chicken Enchilada dish that includes bacon and a creamy ranch sauce. It’s perfect for those ranch fiends in your life (we all have them)! Sean loves an enchilada and he was crazy for this version. It’s savory, a little spicy, cheesy, and so easy. The high-brow is a Slow Cooker Chicken with Apple and Crème Fraîche that includes my favorite cooking booze–calvados. It’s creamy, herbal, hearty, a little sweet, a lot savory, and perfectly autumnal. I’ve made this several times already this fall. The most important thing is that they are equally delicious. Win.

Slow Cooker Chicken w/ Apples and Crème Fraîche

 Slow Cooker Chicken with Apples and Crème Fraîche

Click on over to the Betty Crocker for the recipes and how-to’s:

Chicken Bacon Ranch Enchiladas and Slow Cooker Chicken with Apples & Crème Fraîche

Click HERE for a list of all of my Betty approved recipes!

 

 

Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

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Northern Hemispherians! It’s fall, or more properly, autumn!

I always look forward to the change of seasons, but Autumn is my favorite. It’s the cool change in the air that demands I bring back my cardigans from the depths of my closet, warm beverages, nights that require a fire, oven-baked everything, pumpkins and crazy looking gourds at the market, and apples.

I’ve been preparing for the change of the season by buying Casper tiny-plaid shirts that make him look like a lumberjack-in-training, hats that make him look like a baby-bear, and lots of honeycrisp apples for me to eat. I LOVE honeycrisps. I really fell in love with them when we were living in Michigan–they were abundant there and I am pretty sure that I ate at least my weight in them late last fall after I found out I was pregnant. So, basically, Casper is at least 1/3 honeycrisp apple–the other 2/3 being a mix of strawberries and pizza.Anyway, let’s talk about the perfect fall-flavored mac and cheese. This dish combines my favorite sweet-tart-crisp apple with my favorite fall herb–sage–plus bacon, cheddar, goat cheese, and parm for good measure. Triple-cheese-threat!

And it’s so good, guys! It has all the cheesy goodness you’d expect from classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crisp topping, plus tart apples, sweet onions, salty bacon, and earthy sage. UGH. It’s so good. Sean was a little skeptical, I think, but I assured him that cheese and apples are friends so it totes makes sense. It’s one of those dishes that made me want to high-five myself when it was done, because it’s good…like, really.

[recipe]

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Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

You can use any firm, tart-sweet apple you like for this recipe.

Serves 6-8

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon bacon grease reserved from cooking

2 honeycrisp apples, diced and peeled

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage

1 lb. small to medium shell pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

6 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

Garnish:

Sage leaves

Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease over medium-high and cook the apples and onions with a pinch of salt until softened. Remove from the heat and toss with the chopped sage and most of the bacon (reserve a few tablespoons for the top of the pasta).

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook about 2 minutes less than the package instructs. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux about 1 minute before gradually stirring in the milk. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer and cook until it thickens a bit. Gradually add in the cheddar, goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in the nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. Add the cooked pasta and bacon, apple, onion mixture to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Scrape the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish, or two smaller dishes (I used a 10-inch round dish and 4x4inch square dish). In bowl, toss the panko with the melted butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan, sprinkle over the top of the pasta evenly. Top the pasta with the reserved bacon and bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the edges of the pasta are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

To garnish with fried sage, heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry sage leaves until crisp. Drain on paper towels before adding to the baked pasta.[/recipe]