Pesto Quinoa

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Pesto brings lots of flavor to any dish and quinoa is no exception. Making pesto at home is easy and allows control over how much of what goes into it. I used fresh basil, orange mint, green onion, garlic and walnuts that I had on hand with a small amount of oil.  Paired with sautéed shrimp, baked chicken and roasted vegetables done two ways, it was easy to have different meals daily. Having the right cooking strategy for your week is important to being successful in eating more home cooked meals. For this week, I did the baked chicken, roasted vegetables and quinoa on the same day. The next day, I defrosted a couple of single serving bags of shrimp while I ate breakfast and cooked them afterward (5 mins). I also keep things on-hand like individual packs of tuna (ranch, herb and garlic flavored) and salad greens or canned chicken for and easy chicken salad if I need a little more variety in the week. The important thing is to stock up on healthful, easy options regularly (monthly, weekly) to supplement what you will be cooking.

Check out the recipe below. Serves 5-6.

Pesto Ingredients:

1/2 cup basil

1/4 cup mint

1/4 cup green onion tops

1 clove of garlic 

1 tbsp. chopped walnuts

1 tsp. avocado or olive oil

Roasted Veggie Ingredients:

2 cups chopped zucchini with skin

2 cups chopped carrots 

2 cups chopped broccoli 

2 cups chopped bell pepper

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 

1 tbsp. lemon olive oil (or regular and 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice)

1 tbsp. garlic olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 

Other ingredients:

1 cup quinoa dry

2 cups of water

6-8 chicken legs

  • 5-10 shrimp (optional)

1/2 tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. onion powder

1/2 tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a second baking sheet with foil and add chicken with an even coating of the seasoning and oil and mix with a gloved hand. Place in oven for 45 minutes.
  3. Rinse all vegetables. Cut ends off zucchini then cut in half. Cut each half  in half longwise. Cut into strips and then cube. Repeat with carrots.  Cut bell pepper in half and remove seeds and stem. Cut into strips and then dice. Add all to the baking sheet and roughly break broccoli florets by hand and add them. 
  4. Split vegetables in half and season half with the balsamic vinegar and garlic olive oil and the other with the sherry vinegar and lemon olive oil or juice and regular olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and mix each well with a gloved hand. Bake in oven next to chicken for 30 minutes. Set timer.
  5. Add quinoa and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. In a small blender or bullet device, add pesto ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth.
  7. Once quinoa is done, add to a bowl and and pesto. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once roasted veggies and chicken is done, remove from the oven. Turn it off.
  9. Enjoy!

*For optional shrimp, cook in 1 tsp of oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and garlic powder for 2 minutes. Juice a half a lemon over shrimp and flip them. Add a little more juice and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 minute as it will continue cooking.

A Bit Of Flavor

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It was great to celebrate summer produce with a food demo yesterday at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. With beautiful seasonal corn, tomatoes and cucumber in abundance, it served as a great base for a shrimp bowl. Thanks to Anna Marie Seafood Company, Lena Farm, Chenier Farm and the Fekete Farm for great produce and homemade jelly for the dish.

Not only was this a simple dish, but one that was easy to make with two different flavors to mix things up. This is an easy dish to make before hand and store as individual servings in the fridge for go-to lunch or dinner meals during the week. Depending on your preference, you can make the shrimp all at once and either warm the shrimp separate, or eat cool bowls. I prefer to cook the shrimp two servings per person at a time by making individual and double serving-sized ziploc bags of shrimp that I stock in the freezer. Mix and store the dressings in mason jars or small containers and add 1-2 tbsp. to each serving before eating. The base ingredients are for 8 servings and each dressing is for 4 servings. Check out the two recipes below.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups of fresh corn (4-5 ears)
2 cups diced tomato (2-4 small tomatoes)
2 cups of diced cucumber
1 cup micro greens (optional)
1/2 cup green onion

Shrimp ingredients:
2 lbs shrimp (5-6 pieces per serving)
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

Dressing 1 ingredients:
2 tbsp. Lena’s hibiscus and bishop crown pepper jelly
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Dressing 2 ingredients:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh orange mint
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. If cooking shrimp all at once, add peeled and deveined shrimp to a large ziploc bag, add seasoning and oil and close it. Massage or shake shrimp to distribute seasoning evenly. Let sit so Flavor soaks in.
2. Shuck and rinse corn to remove strings. In a large bowl, cut corn off of cob into bowl, one at a time.
3. Peel cucumber in one-inch strips leaving some skin for additional nutrients. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut the fourth of cucumber in half horizontally, then into strips before dicing to get a small dice. Repeat with remaining three pieces.
4. On a cutting board score and dice tomato and add to bowl.
5. Rinse and chop green onion and add to bowl. Mix with a spoon and add evenly to individual containers.
6. To make dressing one, add jelly and vinegar to a mason jar or small container and mix with a fork until jelly is dissolved. Add oil and seasoning. Store until ready to use.
7. To make dressing two, chop mint and onion and add to mason jar or container. Add vinegar, oil and seasoning and mix well. Store until ready to use.
8. Heat a large skillet over medium- high heat for two minutes. Add shrimp to skillet in an even, flat layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side. *If all of the shrimp doesn’t fit into the skillet, lower heat for the second batch to prevent over cooking shrimp.
9. Add dressing and shrimp to a pre-made bowl and enjoy!