Lemony Quinoa Summer Salad

You’re probably getting tired of all the seafood dishes I post on my blog! Truth is, the seafood that’s available during the summer-time in Seattle is incredible.  I get enough beef and chicken the rest of the year that I try to make the most of all the fresh salmon, shrimp, and scallops while they last.  We’ve been stuck in a bit of a heat wave over the last two weeks here in the Northwest.  I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the sticky, suffocating temperatures wafting over the east coast, but when you’re used to a mild, soggy July, it can be a bit overwhelming.

All I wanted tonight was a light salad bursting with bright, fresh flavors.  I craved a dinner I could scarf down and still have the energy to do jumping jacks afterwards. So here’s what I came up with.  Quinoa is an airy grain that cooks up quickly like couscous, but with just the slightest bit of crunch.  I like it a bit better though  because it has more texture and tends to soak up the flavors of whatever you mix it with.  You’ll want to cook up extra so you can enjoy it for lunch the next day too!

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Roasted Potato Salad With Sea Beans and Bacon

One of my favorite things to do is to open people’s eyes to lesser known foods, particularly ingredients that they never would have touched otherwise.  I didn’t grow up an adventurous eater.  Tuna noodle casserole and sloppy joes were the norm in my diet.  Trying lemon meringue pie was the equivalent of tight-rope walking across Niagra Falls.  In fact, “picky eater” in the dictionary featured my picture til I was 18.

But now, I love roasted brussel sprouts dusted with sea salts as much as french fries.  So what changed things around?   When I met my now-husband, I couldn’t cook so much an eggo waffle, but that was all about to change.  One day, I plopped in front of the TV and stumbled across the Food Network.  As I watched the episode (I wish so badly I could remember which one it was!) I realized it didn’t seem that hard afterall.  So little by little, I began to branch out and try new things.

What I loved most was that I had control over ingredients like onions which I normally would have picked out of my dinner tirelessly.  But when I was in control of the meal, I started to scatter those ingredients in slowly and surely until I found out that if you caramelize onions, they take on a deliciously sweet flavor.  Or if you roast brussel sprouts, they take on a crispy, nutty persona.  With me in the drivers seat of the next meal, I began to thrive on the idea of doing the same thing for other people: transforming the frog into the prince.

Sea beans are a vegetable that most people have never heard of before.  A final challenge on Top Chef was my first introduction to these branchy, coat-rack like plants but I never realized that they grew right in my backyard.  Sherlock Holmes-esque foragers scour Pacific Northwest beaches for croppings of these veggies.  When I saw them at my local farmers market, I tried to get the vendor to leak the location where he snips his sea beans but his lips were sealed.

Nonetheless, I snatched them up to give them a try myself.  They add a nice, crunch and salty bite to this roasted potato salad.  Green beans make a perfect stand-in if you can’t find them yourself.  I realize this potato salad is a little time consuming, and dirties up it’s fair share of pots and pans…but it’s worth it!  Plus it tastes even better the next day, always a bonus. : )  Give it a try at your next bbq and you won’t be disappointed.  This recipe is more or less a rough guideline so don’t bother measuring everything exactly.

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Decadent Caramel Covered Strawberries

June 27, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Dessert, Featured Recipes, Seasonal

I know I’m not the only one out there with a serious sweet tooth. Right around 3 ‘o clock everyday I start to crave something chocolatey. Normally, chocolate-covered strawberries are one of my favorite deserts, but it’s obviously not something I would whip up on a weeknight. Then, I stumbled across this recipe on the Steamy Kitchen Blog.  The idea of using caramel as an alternative to chocolate is pure genius, and the peanuts add a nice textural addition as well. The best part is that this comes together in less than 10 minutes and uses just 4 ingredients that you can find at any grocery store.

This is the perfect recipe to wow your friends and family. Take it to your next birthday party, baby shower, BBQ, whatever and you can bet everyone will be asking for the recipe!   If you want to take this desert to the next level, sprinkle some sea salt over the caramel once it’s melted.
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Couscous Stuffed Tomatoes

When I found out that Oprah was holding an open casting call/audition for her new “Own” television station, I couldn’t wait to apply!  I’ve spent the majority of my life dreaming and telling everyone my grandeur ideas.  But, I have a bad habit of not following through with those aspirations.  This year, I decided to turn over a new leaf and take action.  No more wasting time dreaming about what could be.  Instead, I want to take the steps to make those dreams a reality.

In order to portray who I am while showing my culinary point of view, I had to come up with a recipe that would essentially be “Katie on a plate” (in less than 3 minutes!)  With my food, I really value using seasonal, local ingredients in recipes that are packed with flavor yet still healthy (without being diet food).  For my featured recipe, I wanted to come up with something that utilized seasonal vegetables with other ingredients you can find at any grocery store.

I love these tomatoes because you can mix up the stuffing and use tons of different ingredients to switch up the flavors.  They work great paired with a salad for a light summer dinner, or you can make a big batch as a side dish for a large crowd.

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Zucchini Couscous Cakes

June 21, 2010 by Katie  
Filed under Appetizers, Salad & Veggies, Seasonal, Vegetarian

Technically speaking, spring officially started a few weeks ago. It didn’t really feel like it was here though until this last weekend filled with sunshine and blue skies. Even though Jason and I were stuck working, it seemed like everyone else was really enjoying the change in weather. We’ve spent the last few years supplying everyone else with their toys and our busiest days in the shop are often those 75 degree days where everyone wants to rent paddleboards, buy a trainer kite, or demo a longboard. It seems like the only time we get a breather is on those gray, drizzly days when the rest of the world is smart enough to stay home. Luckily for me, i’m more than happy holing up in my kitchen on those rainy days and braising a big chunk of meat til it falls of the bone.

But I digress. My whole point was that yes, spring is finally here. To me, that means making the transition to light, healthy cooking with all the fresh seasonal produce cropping up. These couscous cakes epitomize spring freshness. This recipe is a variation on the couscous cakes in Fine Cooking Mazagine issue No. 37. You can fill them with any type of veggie you love. I made these with whole wheat couscous so they were extra healthy (it’s actually all I had in my pantry to be honest) and filled them with zucchini, garbanzo beans and almonds. A simple salad played a supporting role while a roasted red pepper sauce brought the cakes to life.

The best part about these couscous cakes is that they’re not only a showstopper but you can fry them up and keep them warm in a warm oven while you put together the rest of your dinner.

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