Colorful Quinoa Salad

I’m in the life stage where I’ve graduated and living with my parents again.  I somehow managed to skip this step when I graduated the first time around by going to India then grad school.  Since moving back home, I’ve made one major observations:  my family eats a lot of meat and very few vegetables.

I’m going nuts.

I offered to cook all meals for my parents.  They said no, because they would pretty much be exclusively meat-free meals.  So basically, I’ve given up on trying to get them to eat healthier.  Instead, I’m making stuff for myself and sharing leftovers.

Yesterday, I made a quinoa, bean, vegetable salad.

Surprisingly, everyone liked it (even though once they claimed to not like quinoa).

Colorful Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup edamame
1/2 cup black beans
1 red pepper, diced (I used about 5 multicolored sweet mini ones)
1 mango, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 4 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa in 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes with some salt.  While the quinoa cooks dice your vegetables.  Place edamame, black beans, red peppers, cucumbers, tomato, mango and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.  Once quinoa is done and slightly cooled, add to the mixing bowl with vegetables, pour in the lime dressing and mix.  Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4-6.

So I guess this is my new strategy: make healthy, tasty (to me) things I like and hope they’ll eat it as well.

Off to the gym I go! Have a great day!

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Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner last night was the best.

First, because I didn’t cook.

Second, because it was just damn good.

Third, it was meat free, and I miss that.

Nancy made fruit salad and a spinach salad.

Kyla just got back from Ethiopia and brought spices with her.  So she made shiro and a delicious bean stew.

It was to die for.  I’m obsessed with the shiro that Kyla made.  Sooo good and so easy to make (given that you have the shiro spice mix).  It definitely came at a time when I’ve sorta been going crazy regarding Italian food.  Basically I’ve had enough.  I miss spiced food.  I cannot find cumin or cilantro in stores here!  I’m going to the “ethnic markets” in the immigrant neighborhoods this week to scout out spices.   So this dinner definitely helped with my spice cravings.

Spices, beans, grains, fruit, vegetables, friends!  What could be better?

Mushroom-Spinach Risotto

Last Tuesday, after a full day of work and two hours of class, I went to the grocery store.  In my drowsy state of exhaustion, I decided I wanted rice.  Unknowingly I purchased arborio, the kind of rice used for risotto, instead of the regular longer grain rice that I’m accustomed to.  I don’t think it was a language barrier, as the box was clearly labeled “arborio.”  It was probably just that I was tired, hungry and not in the right state of mind.

Long story short.  I now have a box of arborio rice sitting in my kitchen cabinet.  Clearly, it can’t go to waste.  Neither can the huge bag of spinach that I purchased in a moment of desperation when I felt like I’d had it with carbohydrates.

But alas, carbohydrates can’t seem to escape me.  Luckily, they’re delicious.

Mushroom-Spinach Risotto

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup arborio rice
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable broth, warm
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (or more if you’d like)

Heat oil in a pot on medium heat.  Add mushrooms and arborio, cook for 5-10 mins until rice begins to turn translucent.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.    Add white wine, stir until it is almost completely absorbed.  Then begin to add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid absorbs.  Repeat until you’ve used all but a bit of the broth.  Stir in the chopped spinach and the last bit of liquid.  Keep stirring until almost completely absorbed, then add the pepper and parmesan.  Once all the liquid is absorbed, serve immediately.

Serves 4.

I think I’m going to suck it up and pay the 195 Euro to use a gym for three months.  I think it might be worth it.

Even though I walk everywhere here, I don’t think it’s going to cut it.  I hadn’t realized how lucky I was to have a cheap gym so close to me in Ithaca.  While I don’t miss the snow, I definitely miss how easy it was to work out.

I’ll keep you posted on the gym dilemma.  Any thoughts?

Valentine’s Day

Forget the pink and red.

Today has been all about green.

Pasta e fagoli con pesto e rucola

Translation: Pasta with cannelini beans and pesto with arugula

It was delicious, but honestly, it’s been a rough day.

I really wanted gelato.  Not far from my house is a gelateria… why not?

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Pasta alla Puttanesca

I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’ve never been a big fan of pasta.

It just was never that exciting.  UNLucky for me, I’m spending the next few months in the land of pasta.

But as the saying goes… When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

So I’m trying, and here’s my experiment.  Pasta alla Puttanesca, which I guess literally means “whore style pasta.” It’s not a Roman recipe originally, and I like to think I’m not a whore, but why not give it a shot.  While I’ve never been a big fan of pasta, I’ve always loved sauce (or “gravy” as they call it on The Sopranos) and more importantly I love olives.

I have no idea if this recipe is anywhere nearing authentic, but I read the basic ingredients of Pasta alla Puttanesca, took a quick trip to the grocery store and came up with this:

To be honest, it was delicious. And to be even more honest, I didn’t measure these things.  So these are estimates of how much I used.  If you give it a try, add stuff and keep tasting and adding more until you like the flavor.  After all, who cares about authenticity if it doesn’t taste good to you? (At least in your own home)

Puttanesca (ish) Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced (apparently the original version doesn’t include onions)
2 gloves of garlic, minced
2 cups tomato puree
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil
1 cup sliced olives
3 tbsp capers
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of fresh italian parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large pot, add onions and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add tomato puree, tomato paste, basil, olives, capers, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in parsley.  Simmer for another 15 minutes or so, really the longer you simmer it the better.  If your sauce is too thick, add a bit of water.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

And enjoy I did, standing at my window, admiring the view

Off to Florence for the weekend!  Be back with pictures!

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Discovering Indoor Exercise and Roasted Vegetables

As much as I hate to admit this, being at my parent’s house was driving me crazy.  For some reason, being there makes me the most sedentary person on the planet.

Example: I watched every episode (5 1/2 season) of How I Met Your Mother in the nearly 3 weeks I was home.  Hilarious show! But that’s wayyyy too much TV.

The truth is, I feel better when I’m more active.  I like walking places and working out.  It just makes me feel better about myself.

So now that I’m in Ithaca, I’m trying to find ways to feel better about myself and my health… despite this:

I won’t lie.  The weather here can be terrible.  I walked to meet up with some friends and my toes were numb even though I was wearing tights, thick socks and snow boots.

But to keep myself moving, I present to you, my home gym:

Real state of the art, right?

Lately I’ve taken to doing circuits while watching episodes of last season’s The Biggest Loser.

Circuit 1: 25 Step ups
Circuit 2: 20 crunches
Circuit 3: 25 jumping jacks
Circuit 4: 20 bicycle crunches
Circuit 5: 25 bunny hops (back and forth over my computer charger)
Repeat

Not the most exciting work out ever but definitely better than sitting and doing nothing.  I’ve also recently discovered ExerciseTV online!

I made another discovery.  It’ll revolutionize lunch (or dinner… for me, at least).  Okay so I didn’t really discover it.  Rather, it’s new to me.

Roasted Broccoli

Who knew it could be so delicious.

What you need:

  • Broccoli, Carrots, Onions, etc.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • baking sheet
  • oven preheated to 400F

Combine broccoli, other vegetables, olive oil, balsamic vinergar, salt and pepper.  Put it all on a baking sheet like such:

Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes.

Makes a wonderful side dish.  I’m so pleased!  Last night I went and bought more broccoli just so I could have it again.

Definitely recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

Off to try to get some work done, or at least move myself a bit.  Have a wonderful day!

Remix to…

…Ignition

Well, maybe not. More like Remix to Curried Kale with Lentils and Mango.

Somehow that doesn’t sound as good as Remix to Ignition.  I’m going to stick to my day job… err that is searching for one…

Anyway, I remade curried kale with lentils and mango.  I made a few changes, I only used 1 tsp of olive oil, omitted the shallot and used 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar instead of lemon.  Everything else stayed pretty much the same.

Pretty delicious.

Take that R. Kelly… or something…

Speaking of day jobs.  I’m off to work on some job applications.  Wish me luck!