Quinoa Pepper Salad

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Do you ever cook with quinoa? The grain has roots in ancient Aztec civilizations, but is becoming more and more popular. It’s good source of protein, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber, which is a little unusual for a grain. It can be used the same way as rice or couscous, but quinoa has a richer, nuttier flavor than either of them, making it great as a side dish, a salad, or even a breakfast cereal. This quinoa pepper salad works  well served both warm and cool, for dinner, lunch or brunch.

1  cups quinoa
2 cups water
oil for sauteing
4 bell peppers, mixed colors
2 teaspoons olive oil
the juice from 1/2 fresh lime
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3 scallions, sliced

Quinoa has a natural coating of a bitter-tasting substance called saponin, you should rinse quinoa a few times before cooking it. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, slice and saute the bell peppers for about 10 minutes, until they are softened.

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice,  and soy sauce in a large bowl and stir in the quinoa, bell peppers, scallions, and and any herbs or salt and pepper to taste.

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New Indigo Platters

Indigo GroupAmong the new items we are introducing this Spring are some big, beautiful platters in the Indigo pattern. I started this set with dinnerware and bowls, and the pattern is based on a coil.  Just a simple coil, creating symmetrical circles. They are not perfect circles though, they are kind of organic and slightly off, I love the offbeat elegance of this, the slight wonkiness, which is reminiscent of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is a catchall term for a 16th century Japanese discipline that combines the notions of wabi (things that are simple or humble) and sabi (things that gain beauty from age). I love the gorgeous scale of these new platters and the way that you get to see the variations of thick and the thin, and the depth and variation of shades of blue that shimmer like water.

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Brown Bag Lunch Blog Roundup

IMG_4312Packing your own lunch and bringing it to work or school is a proven way to both save money and eat better. Studies have shown that bringing your own lunch from home can save you anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 a year! When you pack your lunch at home, it is also easier to make sure it’s healthful — as well as tasty. And you have the freedom to choose foods that you genuinely enjoy, rather than grabbing what is close or handy. Sandwiches are always popular, but grains, salads, soups and leftovers all pack well. And while eating at your desk may sound like drudgery, you can make it special. Bring a favorite dish, a nice bowl, and set of flatware from home, and make your midday meal a bit of a break and occasion! Here’s some ideas from some of our favorite bloggers and writers:

A BEAUTIFUL MESS is making salads in jars

THE GUARDIAN is running a weekly lunch box column

THE LONDONER is using her noodle to soup up packed lunches

DAISIES AND PIE have a week of tasty lunchbox mains and sides

THE L.A. TIMES has 5 ideas for healthy lunches

WELL + GOOD explores what fitness instructors pack for lunch

REAL MOM NUTRITION on how to pack lunch without losing your mind

THE KITCHN has 15 recipes to reboot your lunch routine

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Oscar Night Party Ideas

IMG_4302Whether you are planning a fancy themed party or casual night to watch the Oscar ceremony tonight,  popcorn is a classic movie snack. Serve up some big beautiful bowls of popcorn for your guests. And while traditional salt and butter is always an excellent topping, popcorn is incredibly versatile. Consider these toppings:

  • Pesto: Sprinkle dried basil and grated Parmesan cheese over freshly popped popcorn.
  • Chile Margarita: Add lime juice, a teaspoon of tequila and some finely minced jalapeno peppers to your butter before you toss. Or simply squeeze a lime over your warm popcorn and sprinkle with chile powder.
  • Rosemary: Add 2 sprigs of roughly chopped rosemary to your oil before you begin  popping your corn for an herbal infusion.
  • Smoked Paprika and chopped Parsley
  • Buffalo Wings: Combine 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce in a small microwave-safe cup, and zap in the microwave until the butter is melted. Stir and toss with the popped corn
  • Ground cinnamon and sugar
  • Cheddar Cheese: Mix 1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder, a pinch of mustard powder, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper with melted butter and popcorn.
  • Lemon: Add some lemon juice to melted butter and toss the popcorn with zest of one lemon.
  • Pumpkin Spice: Mix 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until all melted and mixed. Pour over popcorn.
  • Mediterranean: Skip the butter and toss popcorn with olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese and some Italian seasoning blend.

And if you are looking for some other ideas of what to serve, here are some other party food ideas from our blog;

Gazpacho Dip

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Caramelized Onion Dip

Deviled Eggs

My Green Pea Hummus


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