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.