Fresh Four Layer Quinoa Salad

 

Wow.  Just wow.  I didn’t know how I would feel about this…being a not-so-big fan of tomatoes.  I have found a few things I can eat them in that I can tolerate…even almost like.  But I always know they are there, and fight the cringe because I know they are good for me and it’s just in my head.

Well this was different.  It’s like they weren’t even there.  Not a thought to cringe.  I was too busy shoving this in my face.

Funny thing is, I made this the day after Mr. Rodgers and I had decided “we really have to stop cheating, let’s try harder to plan ahead and eat healthy.”  Well my day was insane…leaving the house at 7 am, working a 6 hour shift at one job, coming home for a couple of minutes, then heading to job number two for an 8 hour shift.  I really wanted to just drive through McDonalds.  Gross, I know.  Guilty pleasure.  I cannot pretend that I do not like McChickens and cheeseburgers and lard-fried French fries.  But I am trying so hard to leave them all behind.  So in my short amount of time I had at home, I made this bad boy.  Texted Mr. Rodgers to see where he was, and found out that he was at said job number two with a friend, waiting to say hi to me.  So I packed up this beautiful salad, and drove on over.  Walked in to see him spooning marshmallow ice cream into his mouth.

Instead of reacting, I just walked over with this gorgeous salad in my hand.  He looked at it, stopped, and said something along the lines of “Oh my gosh, what is that?!  It looks sooo good!”  And then proceeded to look at his ice cream with an ounce of disgust.  Not a “you are gross” sort of disgust.  I’m not gonna lie.  Marshmallow ice cream is my favorite.  But more of a “why am I eating you right now when I could be eating that instead, and feel a lot better afterwards…?”  Haha!  Then as I continued to walk through the store, I got similar reactions from our friend that was hanging out with Mr. Rodgers, and my manager, who was talking about how “cute” that salad was until she left for the evening.  And I got to introduce her to quinoa!  I love informing people of my wonderful protein-packed and oh so delicious  friend called quinoa!

So, without further ado, here is my four layer salad…my new salad obsession that forever changed my life! 😉

Adapted from this wonderful $3 find!!!

Steak Mango 2Find it on Amazon here, or if you are in my area…go to a 5 Below store and pick it up!  They have lots of cook books I want to try!

This is the same book I adapted my Steak and Mango Salad from…it’s hard to say which I liked best cause they were both so fantastic!!  Yay for salads worth getting excited about!

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Large bag fresh spinach
  • 2-3 Ripe Tomatoes, diced…depending on your love level for them 😉
  • 1/4 Large Red Onion, Minced
  • 1 Small Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1/2 Serrano Pepper, Minced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Avocadoes
  • 1 Lime (for the juice)
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 C Uncooked Quinoa
  • Handful of Cilantro or Parsley, Chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Mrs. Dash, Onion powder, Chili powder…whatever you want to season your guacamole
  • 1 Tbsp Vinegar of choice (I usually use Red Wine because husband loves it)

 

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Start your quinoa cooking according to package directions.  It should say something along the lines of “Bring 2 C water to a boil, stir in 1 C quinoa, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes or until liquid is gone.”
  2. Now prep all those beautiful veggies!  Mince, dice, chop!!
  3. Cut your avocadoes in half long ways, twist halves apart, remove pit, and separate flesh from the skin with a spoon.
  4. Smash avocadoes with a fork until it looks creamy but still a little chunky.  Squeeze in the juice of a lime, sprinkle with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, Onion Powder, and Chili Powder.  Just enough to get a little flavor, but not too much to overwhelm the avocado flavor…especially since there are so many other flavors in this salad.  Mix until combined.
  5. Put tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and Serrano in a bowl and stir together.  Add Olive Oil, vinegar, salt, pepper.  Taste and adjust.  Stir in cilantro or parsley.
  6. In bowls, fill the bottom with a layer of spinach.  Add a large spoonful of the tomato mixture.  Drop a large spoonful of guacamole on next and gently smooth it out slightly.  Last layer!  Scoop up a spoonful of quinoa, and drop it on top of the guacamole as is.  Sprinkle with more cilantro and lime if you desire…now devour!!!

 

So filling…usually I am not satisfied with a meal unless there is meat in it.  This one had so much going on that it filled me right up and I didn’t even think about the fact that I hadn’t added chicken to my salad.  (I always add chicken!)  The protein in the quinoa filled me up, the thickness of the guacamole stuck to my bones, the freshness of the pico-style tomato mixture popped with flavor, and the spinach was delicious as usual and totally completed this perfect combo!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!!!

 

Peectures!!

Pico Salad 1Start your quinoa cooking, and start prepping your veggies!!  Try to get nice small, even cubes…

PIco Salad 2Do you remember how I showed you to get nice even squares out of bell peppers?  This picture is a hint…if you want a reminder head on over to my Summer Veggie Salad with a Crunch post!

Pico Salad 3Mash your avocadoes with the lime juice, salt, pepper, and seasonings of choice.  Set aside while you combine all your colorful veggies in a bowl…

Pico Salad 4Don’t you just love all those colors together?!  Now add your olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.

Pico Salad 5Stir in your fresh cilantro or parsley, whatever you have on hand.  Personally, I prefer cilantro! 🙂

Pico Salad 6Now line your bowl with a layer of spinach…

Pico Salad 7Dump in a ladle full of your “pico” mixture…

Pico Salad 8Smear on a big spoonful of guac…

Pico Salad 9Then top with a spoonful of quinoa, and you are ready to go!!  SO GOOD!  Make sure to get a little bit of everything on your fork for the first bite, so you can experience all of it’s beauty at once!  🙂

 

Advertisements

Creamy Avocado Enchiladas!

 

Oh my gosh.  Seriously.  Eat these.  I’m not kidding.  Do it.  I thought that I didn’t like enchiladas.  Until I ate these ones.  Life.  Changed.  FOREVER!

The picture doesn’t do it justice.  Bare with me as I learn to take photos…and wait for a camera I can use other than my little 3GS’s camera. 😉 I am SO thankful for my iPhone…but as far as iPhones go, its slightly ancient and the pictures I take are proof 😉

Anywho…on to important business.  FOOD!  Thank You Lord for Pinterest…or I never would have discovered my avocado enchilada love! And thank you to closetcooking.com for being the wonderful soul who first pinned it.  I am forever in your debt.

Here’s what you need to make these beauties:

Note: For the sauce you need a food processor or blender to get it really creamy! However, I recently broke mine, so I mixed the sauce ingredients in my KitchenAid mixer to get it as creamy as possible.  My husband suggested that.  He’s a genius.   Obviously, if you do it that way its going to have some more chunks in it.  It still worked smashingly…you just might want to make sure you chop your jalapeno and such a little smaller 🙂

  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 1 Cup salsa verde
  • 1/2 Cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 4 avocados, divided
  • 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (or if you don’t have a food processor…chopped up as tiny as you can get it! Feel free to remove the seeds and ribs if you don’t want to bite in to one, or if you want it less spicy.)
  • 1 Clove garlic (refer to my advice on the jalapeno!)
  • 1 tsp Cumin (It says toasted and ground. I just used the powder and it tasted great.  If you wanna toast and grind your own…go for it and let me know how you did it and how it tastes!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I hate it when recipes say that.  I used 1/2 tsp of salt if that helps.)
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (or you can do what I do…go to the produce department and buy cilantro paste and give this sauce a few good squeezes of it.  The stuff tastes exactly the same as the fresh herb, and yet will stay good for weeks in the fridge in contrast to the few hours you seem to get out of a bunch of cilantro leaves)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 4 Cups shredded cooked chicken (I baked 4 chicken breasts with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs for about 40 minutes.  It was just the right amount.)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (Don’t throw away those white ends! Stick them in a cup of water in your window and they’ll grow you a constant supply!)
  • 2 Cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 tortillas, 7 inch (I couldn’t find any that said “7 inch” on them…so I just used “small taco” size)

How to do it.  It’s really pretty easy!!

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop up your jalapeno, garlic cloves, and cilantro and peel your avocados.  Believe it or not, I’ve known people who try to peel their avocados with a knife or vegetable peeler.  Don’t do that.  Cut it in half long ways, take a big spoon and scoop between the skin and the flesh, starting at the big end.  It will pop right out.  You probably already knew that, but I just had to make sure.  If you don’t have a food processor or blender and are preparing your sauce in a mixer or by hand, smash two of your avocados in a bowl, like you’re making guacamole.  The more you smash, the creamier it should get 🙂  But read closely, ONLY SMASH TWO OF THEM!! You need to dice the other 2 🙂 Once your veggies are prepared, you are ready to begin combining things with ease!  If you are slightly OCD like me, you can also pre measure everything at this step too and have it all waiting in cute little bowls 🙂
  3. In your blender, food processor, or mixer, add your chicken broth, salsa verde, sour cream, the first 2 avocados (the smashed ones if you’re using a mixer), jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice.  Blend, process, or mix it until it’s as creamy as possible (or whatever consistency you decide you want it.  🙂 ) Now…admire its beautiful color.  Green is my favorite 🙂
  4. Now take half of that sauce and mix it with your shredded chicken, 2 diced avocados, green onions, and half of your cheese.  I had a total of about 4 Cups of sauce…so about 2 Cups should be going into this mixture 🙂
  5. Coat the bottom of a 9X13 pan with some of the remaining sauce, I used about a Cup.
  6. Wrap the chicken mixture in the tortillas burrito style, and place them seam side down in the saucy dish 😉
  7. Pour any remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas, and cover them with CHEEEEESE! Confession…I think I forgot the cheddar cheese here…but it still seemed to be PLENTY of cheese and was magically delicious…so if you don’t have quite enough cheese…don’t fret, it will still be a success!
  8. Bake in 350 degree oven until the cheese has melted and the sides are bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Eat.  Enjoy.  Be changed!!! 😀

Here’s a picture of my end product.  It’s not very pretty…but in real life it was gorgeous…and DELICIOUS! Trust me, it’s true.