Quinoa Corn Salad with Cilantro, Chives, and Lemon-Lime Dressing

After one of my colleagues had surgery a couple weeks ago, I wanted to help out by bringing some food to their house.  I stressed protein in the meal since they were in recovery and building muscles would be helpful.  I also had several of the ingredients on-hand, which helped to create this dish from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook.  Bonus: the recipe has been sitting in my drafts for months, waiting for spring and a reason to make it.

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Quinoa Corn Salad with Cilantro, Chives, and Lemon-Lime Dressing

Serves 6

1 cup (240 ml) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) corn, fresh or frozen
1 small red onion, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped cilantro
3 scallions, minced
2 tbsp (30 ml) finely minced chives
1 tsp (5 ml ) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Tobasco sauce, or to taste

Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly with cold, running water. Bring water to boil in a small pot, add the quinoa and salt and bring to a boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for an additional 5 minutes. Strain off any excess liquid and spread the quinoa out to cool on a tray while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Steam or lightly saute corn until just tender and cool to room temperature. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season with additional salt, pepper or hot sauce to taste. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

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Butterscotch and Cayenne Bars

One of our staff members went above and beyond to help figure out a situation and I wanted to thank them.  I was intrigued by this recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix.  The combination of spicy and sweet seemed super tasty.  And, it turned out really yummy.  My only regret is that I didn’t cook the butterscotch a little bit longer.  I could have added a little more cayenne pepper as well.  But, with the midwest palate not often appreciating spicy flavor, this amount of cayenne seemed safer.

Butterscotch and Cayenne Bars

Butterscotch and Cayenne Bars

Basic dough

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 c milk, plus more if needed

Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar; add the vanilla and egg and beat until well-blended.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Add half the dry ingredients to the dough, beat for a minute, then add the milk.  Beat for 10 seconds, then add remaining dry ingredients to make a soft dough.  Spread the dough onto the bottom of a deep, well-greased 9×13 inch baking pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees, until just barely set in the middle.  Take the bars out of the oven when the edges are still firming up and the middle is a bit soft; they will cook as they cool.  Combine 1 c heavy cream, 10 Tbsp butter, and 1 1/2 c brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is shiny and coats the back of a spoon, 10 to 15 minutes.  Spread the mixture over the cooled cookie layer and sprinkle with cayenne.  Refrigerate until set, then cut into squares and serve.

Chocolate Chip Bars

Remember when you were learning to bake?  My very first baking experience was with a microwave cake mix — I think they might have bee all the rage in the mid-80s and I imagine others my age also made a microwave cake for their first item.  But, the first recipe with measured ingredients I remember making was this recipe for chocolate chip bars.  I know my mom suggested it…but beyond that, I imagine we made it because the ingredients were all in the house.  A couple weeks ago when I wanted to make some bars for some students on-campus, this seemed like the perfect option.

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Chocolate Chip Bars

2 c flour
2 c brown sugar
1/2 c margarine
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 c milk
1 egg
1 c chocolate chips

Mix together flour, brown sugar, and margarine.  Reserve 1 cup of the mixture in a separate bowl.  Add soda, salt, vanilla, milk, and egg.  Pour into a 9×13 pan.  Add chocolate chips to the reserved mixture.  Sprinkle over the batter.  Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes.

Square Dance Quilt

Do you remember a couple years ago when I made a coin quilt for some friends of mine who were having a baby?  They’ve continued to have some struggles with expanding their family.  Christina writes a beautiful blog about their miscarriages and pregnancies, and about 6 weeks ago, they had a little boy who joined their family.  I wanted to make them another quilt for the new baby, and while I don’t have a big photograph of the quilt, I do have a number of close-ups of this quilt, from a pattern called the Square Dance pattern.  I bought it as a kit at Inspired to Sew and my friend Dawn at Modern Home Arts quilted it.  Take a look:

Bohemian Bars

This has been on my to-bake list for about 6 months.  And finally, I decided I needed to make it.  The recipe is from Our Favorite Recipes, ALCW of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, Kiester, Minnesota, 1970, and I have no idea why they are called Bohemian Bars, but why not.  These were a great bar and for a layered bar, I thought they tasted great.  There weren’t instructions on how much jam to use, so I used a thin layer, which amounted to 3/4 cup-1 cup.  It definitely could have used a larger layer of jam in the middle so you may decide to use more if you decide to make these in the future.

Bohemian Bars

Bohemian Bars

1 c margarine
1 c sugar
2 c flour
1 c nuts (chopped)
1/4 tsp salt
raspberry jam

Mix all ingredients together; pat 1/2 mixture in the bottom of an 8×8 inch pan.  Spread top with raspberry jam; sprinkle rest of mixture on top of jam.  Bake for 1 hour in a 325 degree oven; cut in squares.

Olive Oil Cookies with Orange and Cinnamon

Previously I have made olive oil cake that turned out great, and when I came across this recipe for olive oil cookies, I knew I wanted to make them.  I found it in another of Mark Bittman’s cookbooks, The Best Recipes in the World.  For me, this made 24 cookies.  I was a little disappointed they didn’t spread, so next time, I would definitely flatten the dough before baking.  But, the orange flavor was subtle, the olive oil was nice, and the cinnamon could have been a tad stronger.  The nice benefit is that this is a recipe that others are likely to have not tasted before, so when taking them to an event, like the bbq I took them to, I was introducing folks to a different taste, as opposed to one of their previous standards.

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Olive Oil Cookies with Orange and Cinnamon

2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 c olive oil
grated zest of 1 orange or lemon, plus some of its juice
1/4 c Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the dry ingredients. Beat the egg with the olive oil, orange zest, and liqueur. Gently stir the liquid mix into the dry one, just until well-combined; if the mixture is stiff, add a little orange juice.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a rack to further cool down. Store in a covered container for up to 3 days; sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe in The New Midwestern Table and was intrigued by the addition of coffee in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, so I thought I would try this out and see if it was the absolute best and greatest cookie recipe in the world.  And, they were okay.  As with a few other cookie recipes lately, I found myself annoyed that the cookies didn’t spread much.  I’m blaming most of it on using butter instead of margarine as I did growing up.  I also expected the peanut butter to come through more strongly, but it did not.  The recipe is a fine chocolate chip cookie recipe, but not one that makes me yell from the rooftop: Go make this recipe now!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c sugar
2 c brown sugar
1 c peanut butter
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp brewed coffee, cool
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 2/3 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 12 oz bags semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it’s soft and light.  Add the sugars, and beat until well-incorporated and slightly fluffier, about 3 minutes.  Add the peanut butter and mix until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next, and then mix in the coffee and vanilla.

Measure the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the flour to the butter mixture in four additions, beating slowly.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.  If you have time, chill the dough.

Drop large cookies onto light-colored cookie sheets, leaving room for them to spread.  Bake until golden brown on top, 12 to 14 minutes.