After the gluttony that was Richmond Restaurant Week and my birthday it was time for something extra light and healthy.  This was delicious!  It made me wonder why I don't eat more salads for dinner.  This has quinoa - an ancient grain that is a complete protein (meaning it has all of the amino acids you need to build protein) which is rare to find in any one single vegetarian source.  In this recipe, it is coupled with the healthy fats of extra virgin olive oil and avocado and finished off with fresh vitamin rich tomatoes and greens.
Source: Shine 
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (1 small)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Spinach leaves (I used mixed greens)
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. In a 1-1/2-quart saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl. Add tomato, spinach, and onion; stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt. Add to quinoa mixture; toss to coat.
  3. Place spinach leaves on 4 salad plates. Arrange avocado slices on spinach leaves. Spoon quinoa mixture over avocado slices. Sprinkle with some of the feta. Makes 4 main-dish servings.
Hooray!  It's here!  This week in Richmond you can enjoy a three course meal at many local restaurants for just $25.12!  Some of the proceeds will go towards a local food charity.  This is your chance to try many pricey places at a fraction of the usual cost!
Use this link for more information: 
This is a great way to sneak veggies into your pasta! The corn gives it a nice sweet flavor.

Rachel Ray Mag (with changes)
  • 1 pound corkscrew pasta, such as rotini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 zucchini (about 1 pound), thinly sliced (use a food processor to save time; they should be paper thin)
  • 4 ears corn, kernels scraped off
  • 1 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn and cooked pasta. Add 1 cup cheese and toss; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the basil on top of the pasta.
Leeks are definitely one of my new favorite vegetables.  This recipe is delicious!
Source: Rachael Ray Mag
  • 3 small pieces chicken breast (1 1/4 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved, root kept inact
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs thyme and parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I skipped this)
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 3 medium leeks--trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 4 slices good-quality white bread--toasted, lighly buttered and halved into triangles (I used whole wheat bread)
  1. Place the chicken in a deep skillet and season with salt. Add the carrot, celery, onion, lemon, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and just enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a low boil and poach the chicken for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred or slice. Strain the stock.
  2. Meanwhile, in another deep skillet, heat the butter an EVOO over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the flour and stir for a minutes. Add the wine and ladle in 1 cup of the chicken poaching stock. Stir in the cream for about 5 minutes to thicken. Stir in the tarragon and mustard. Add the chicken.
  3. Align the toast triangles on plates point to point, with the cut sides facing out. Top with the cream of chicken and leeks.
There is something about food that is prepared with just a few fresh ingredients and this recipe is a great example of this.  From start to finish, this took me about 20 minutes and had tons of flavor.  I finished it with a side of steamed green beans and a crisp glass of Viognier. 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 6-ounce tilapia fillets, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, oil, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the tilapia and toss to coat. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to the package directions. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Heat grill to high. Grill the tilapia on an oiled grate until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve with the couscous and lemon wedges.
This is why Chinese food is terrible for you: You start with a fatty cut of mystery meat (generally for chicken, this is the thigh), bread it, deep fry it, and then smother it in a sauce which is high in salt, sugar, and MSG.  Finish it all off with white rice fried in more oil.  And it's awesome! But if you're looking for something on the healthier side, try this.  It didn't taste exactly like General's Tso's, but it was great and is definitely much healthier.  

Source: Rachel Ray Mag
  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch  scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 head  steamed broccoli, for serving
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg white, 4 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp ginger. Stir in the chicken until evenly coated.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil and the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1/2 tsp ginger. Stir in the honey and vinegar.
  3. Heat a wok or large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil and swirl to coat. Carefully add half of the chicken pieces in a single layer. Cook, turning once, until the meat is no longer pink. about 5 minutes. (I'm not sure on what planet a 1lb of cubed chicken cooks in five minutes.  This definitely took 15 minutes).  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil and chicken.
  4. Discard the excess oil from the wok (about 1/2 tbsp). Add the scallions and garlic; stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in the sesame oil mixture. Return chicken to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through, 1-2 minutes. Serve with the broccoli and brown rice.
Delish.  Loved it.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, 5 tbsp. cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 3/4 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 cup heavy cream ( I lightened this up with half and half)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, diced
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, 5 tbsp. cubed butter and 1/4 tsp. salt until crumbly. Add the ice water and pulse until a dough forms; transfer to a floured surface. Knead the dough twice, then form into a disk; wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I did this the night before using my stand mixer to shave off some time).
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured surface; roll into an 1/8-inch-thick round. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch; crimp the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  (I don't understand this step.  This seemed pointless so I skipped it).
  3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees . Remove the tart shell and prick it all over with a fork. Line the inside with foil; fill with pie weights (or dried rice or beans) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and bake again until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Let cool.  ( I did not need the last 10 minutes of this - mine was already done).
  4. Rinse the sliced leeks in cold water. In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the leeks; cook until soft, 5 minutes.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the cream, eggs, remaining 3/4 tsp. salt and the pepper.
  6. Distribute the leeks and cheese in the cooled shell. Pour the cream mixture on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove, transfer the oven rack to the top shelf, then bake again until set, 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let rest for 10 minutes.

Leeks are great.  They are similar to onions and are wonderfully fragrant and flavorful.  However, they do get pretty dirty so be sure to clean them well or you'll get a little dirt in your food!

Source: Rachael Ray Mag
Not one of my favorites, but I'll post it anyway.  I found the bisque to be somewhat bland and there was something about pureeing shrimp in my blender which was ultimately unappealing.  Plus, let's add that I got in too big of a hurry and tried to blend too much at once - and ended up with what Matt calls "shrimp mush" basically all over my kitchen.  They can't all be winners.
Source: Rachel Ray
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 pound medium shell-on raw shrimp
  • Salt
  • 4 large sprigs thyme
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • Cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp, EVOO over high heat. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook, stirring, until pink and firm, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. peel the shrimp and transfer to a clean bowl. Return the shells to the pot. Add 8 cups water and 3 sprigs thyme, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 2- minutes. Strain the broth into a large glass measuring cup, pressing on the shells to extract any juices; discard the shells.
  2. Add the onion, celery and remaining 1 tbsp. EVOO to the pot; season with salt and a pinch of cayenne. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste then the wine. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the shrimp, broth and rice. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, skimming occasionally, until the rice is cooked, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove 6 of the shrimp and slice in half lengthwise; reserve. In a blender, puree the soup with the remaining shrimp in batches; return to the pot. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with more salt and cayenne. Ladle the bisque into bowls; garnish with the reserve shrimp and the remaining thyme.
Super fresh and super fast!  I decided to use organic tomatoes for this and I think it was worth it - the flavors were great!
Source: Real Simple 
  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 1 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (I would definitely use more than this - I used an entire small bulb)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the tomatoes, oil, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. (Make sure to just coarsely chop the tomatoes, or your sauce will be too watery).
  3. Toss the pasta with the tomato sauce and half the basil. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and the remaining basil just before serving. (Drain slightly with a slotted spoon or lift and drain pasta with tongs if using spaghetti or linguine). 
These patties weren't supposed to turn out green, but I crammed so many veggies into them, they turned out that way! Spring calls for lighter meals and the freshest produce the season can offer, so skip the meat and eat your vegetables! I finished mine off on whole grain buns, pickles, more pea shoots, and organic ketchup from Trader Joe's.
Ultimate Veggie Burger

2 1/2 cups canned garbanzos, drained and rinsed
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 onion, chopped
Grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion, or alfalfa sprouts - optional)
1 cup toasted (whole-grain) bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)

Combine the garbanzos, eggs, and salt in a food processor. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus. Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the cilantro, onion, zest, and sprouts. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into four patties.  Grill until golden and heat through, about seven minutes.