Help me find a new name!


Green Squash will soon have a new name. When I started this blog, just a mere 2 weeks ago, I never thought anyone would see it. If they did, I certainly didn’t think they would take any time to actually read it. The name was simply based on a minor anecdote between husband and wife.

600 unique readers later and the pressure is on. What?! I don’t even know 600 people. It’s amazing and awesome how fast information spreads via the internet. Yea, we need to step this up a notch.

Trying to brainstorm name ideas is driving me bonkers. Just when you think you have a great idea, you don’t. Either ten other people already have that name, or your husband hates it, or godaddy.com is charging $1200 for it. Here are what seem to be the top 4 contenders:

By the way, we’re doing this American Idol style, so you can vote as many times as you’d like.

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Red Quinoa and Avocado Salad

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Hey there! You found my old site. You must be a detective. Come and see this post and much more at Tastefully Julie.

 
Red quinoa and avocado salad
Quinoa (keen-wah) is considered a “superfood” because it contains more protein than any other grain. It’s also a source of complete protein, meaning that it provides all of the essential amino acids. Other grains, such as rice or barley, provide only half of the essential amino acids. Wait a minute, maybe that’s because quinoa is not a grain at all, it’s a seed! Oh well, it’s hyped as a grain because of it’s shared characteristics and similar cooking methods.

One thing I do know is that quinoa, in all its crunchy, nutty glory, is delicious and super good for you. I got addicted to this prepared salad at Wegmans over the summer. There’s nothing worse than driving there just for this salad and finding out they don’t have it that day. Wait, yes there is. Driving there to get it and finding it full of brown avocados. Gross! If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups red quinoa, cooked and chilled
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 avocado, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro*
  • 3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup lemon vinaigrette (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

*There are two cilantro camps: the “‘Oh my god I love it!’ camp” and the “‘Oh my god I hate it!’ camp”. There is literally no in between. If you hate it, try parsley or a bit of mint instead.

The hardest part about this is making the quinoa. Those seeds are finicky little buggers. I like to err on the side of caution by using a little less water than recommended. Mushy quinoa is so bad it must go directly in the trash. You can always add more water if it’s dry and cook it longer.

This is the easiest way to slice an avocado. Make horizontal and vertical cuts being careful not to go through the skin and into your fingers! Then just scoop it out.

To assemble the salad simply add all of the ingredients to a bowl and gently mix. I like to toss the avocados in the dressing first to give them a good acidic coating. Just say “no” to brown avocados.


Adapted from Wegmans

This recipe is featured on Real Food Wednesday

Simply Sinful Blondies

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Chocolate chip blondie barsI did something very out of the ordinary for me. I made a recipe as-is. Didn’t screw around with it at all. What makes this especially remarkable is that the recipe was for a decadent chocolate chip cookie bar calling for an entire stick of butter! I’m always trying to improve the nutritional value of desserts. Usually I cut back on the sugar, use agave nectar, substitute whole wheat flour, replace half the fat with fruit puree, et cetera. My kids like to call this “taking the fun out of everything”.

However, this recipe was so simple that I didn’t want to complicate it. Calling for just flour, sugar, butter, egg, and chocolate chips, it came together in mere minutes. The best part of it’s simplicity is that there is only one bowl to lick wash when you are done. These are so incredibly easy to make you can even do it with a hangover. Trust me.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used half white and half chocolate chunks)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 pan. Add brown sugar to the butter and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour and whatever chips and nuts you decide to use. Bake for about 30 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool before cutting (ha ha, not very likely).

Original recipe at Smitten Kitchen

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

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This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend (who shall remain nameless) a few days ago. This friend was telling me about a salad she had at a local restaurant which was, according to her, the best salad in the world. I was obviously intrigued. She told me the salad consisted of roasted vegetables atop baby spinach with balsamic dressing and feta cheese. Immediately I’m thinking, “mmmm, that would be even better with goat cheese. Wait, no, pan fried, breaded goat cheese…”. I digress. But I’ll be posting THAT recipe shortly.

Anyhow, she said she tried to make the same salad at home but it wasn’t as good because she had to use bottled dressing. I said, “oh, you could have made your own. It’s easy”. Her eyes widened and she said, “oh, I know but this dressing is really special. The owner told me she makes it herself with barely any sugar!”. Convinced this argument was futile, I agreed, “oh, that is special!”

It occurred to me that maybe not everyone knows how easy it is to whip up your own dressing. Balsamic dressing is especially forgiving. The following is a basic recipe. You can increase or decrease the vinegar depending on the level of tartness you prefer. Frankly, I hardly ever measure, but it goes something like this ~

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (I use Gulden’s spicy brown mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • salt and pepper

You can whisk all the ingredients together really well or put them in a bottle and shake the heck out of them. I actually blend everything in my 2-cup food processor and it stays nice and emulsified. The choice is yours. This dressing will keep longer than it will remain in your fridge.

balsamic vinaigrette

Friends don't let friends buy bottled balsamic dressing.

Adventures in Tagine Cooking, Part 1 ~ Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Carrots

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For Valentine’s Day I got a Le Creuset tagine accompanied by a new Moroccan cookbook (swoon). I’ve read articles that discourage men from buying their spouses kitchen or other household paraphernalia for Valentine’s Day. I totally disagree. A few years ago I got an amazing vacuum cleaner. Every kiss begins with Kay Dyson.
Le Creuset tagine
A tagine is kind of like the original slow-cooker. It’s a Moroccan clay or cast iron pot with a tall, conical lid. The lid allows steam to circulate above the food and then funnel back down into the dish, keeping food moist and evenly cooked. It’s also super cool looking.

If you’ve never had Moroccan food, this recipe is a good introduction. It’s delicately spiced and kid-friendly. If you prefer more spice, I would recommend DOUBLING the spices (except the paprika). Don’t fret. If you were given earrings or a bracelet for Valentine’s day you can still make this recipe. Try it in a large saucepan or Dutch oven with lid.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups broth or water
  • 2 cups drained canned chick peas
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro with stems
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Vanns salt exoctica (available at Wegmans)
  • 3 chicken breasts (approx. 1.5 pounds), cut in half
  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until onions begin to soften. Stir in the next 6 spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the water or broth, chick peas, tomatoes, cilantro and lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.


Sprinkle chicken pieces with the Vann’s salt exotica and add to the pot. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Toss in the carrots, replace the lid, and cook for 15 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Luckily it’s finally done because by this point the aroma has permeated the entire house. This can be a complete meal on it’s own or served with a side of bread, rice, or couscous. Garnish with lemon wedges for additional juice.

Bon Appetit!

Adapted from Bon Appetit