Mediterranean-Style Quinoa…

[keen-wah]. You thought it was [kwin-oah], didn’t you? 😉 That’s ok, so did I at first. Up until a couple of years ago, I had never even heard of this stuff, much less know how to cook it. But it’s become pretty popular lately- mostly due to how healthy it is (very high in protein and fiber), but also because it’s extremely versatile. You can bake with it, eat it for breakfast (like oatmeal), make a salad with it, cook it like rice and throw in lots of yummy vegetables…the list goes on! It’s a grain-like seed with a texture similar to a cross between rice and couscous (you can read all about quinoa here). Joel and I both loved the texture and thought it was all-around a delicious new food to add to our menu rotation! I cooked it with red and yellow bell peppers, red onions, garlic, baby portobella mushrooms, black olives and feta cheese for a flavorful Mediterranean twist – absolutely delicious! I’m so happy I finally decided to try quinoa and can’t wait to experiment with all kinds of flavors and dishes!

Mediterranean-Style Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
6-8 baby portobella mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 small can chopped black olives
1/3 cup feta cheese
salt and pepper

Bring the quinoa and chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until all the liquid has absorbed.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onions, peppers and garlic until beginning to soften, about 7 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
Add the cooked quinoa to the pan with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice, black olives and feta cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original


Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki…

Those of you who have followed me for awhile know how much I looooove Greek food. Anything even remotely “Greek-tasting” is a winner in my book! Especially Gyros (pronounced “yee-rohz”). Oh man, oh man…I could go on and on about Gyros. The first one I ever tasted (ever heard of, actually) was in Vienna. Street vendors were selling them everywhere and that giant, rotating slab of meat looked pretty good to me, so I tried it. The meat was juicy, spicy and ohmigosh-so flavorful, and it was topped with a cool, cucumbery yogurt sauce, called Tzatziki; all served up in a warm, soft pita bread with tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Heaven in hand-held form. I was absolutely smitten from there on. Since then, I’ll eat a Gyro every chance I get! And now, luckily, I can make them at home anytime I like! I just happen to see this recipe over at Made By Mel, who saw it on Elly Says Opa! (the queen of Greek food!) and turned around and made it that night! Like I said earlier, typically, Gyros are made with lamb or beef or both, but this recipe calls for chicken, which makes it so quick and easy!

The Tzatziki is especially delicious- almost like a garlic-y (much, much lighter) Ranch dressing. If you have any left over, it makes a great dip for veggies or a nice sauce for grilled chicken or steak. It’s so versatile!

Chicken Gyros
-seen on Made by Mel, originally from Elly Says Opa!

2 Cloves Garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 heaping tablespoons Plain or Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
Tzatziki (see below)
sliced tomatoes
sliced red onions
Pita Bread

Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the grill to medium heat (or broiler, or pan on the stove).  Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, depending  what size/type chicken you are using. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.
Meanwhile, heat your pitas in a fry pan, in the toaster or spray with a bit of oil and place right on a gas burner. Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes and onions. *I grilled my onions since I don’t really like them raw- it added a great layer of flavor! (I also added some thinly sliced cucumbers)

16 oz. of plain or Greek yogurt (preferably not fat free)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth over a bowl for several hours or overnight to get out as much moisture as possible. (Since I was using Greek yogurt which was already quite thick, I skipped this step and it came out the perfect consistency)
Shred the cucumbers and then wrap in a towel and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Don’t skip this step!
Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. It’s best to refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before serving, so flavors can meld.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.


Greek Week!

No, I don’t mean “Greek Week” as in all that sorority/fraternity college stuff – I mean it literally. A couple of weeks back, it really was a pretty “Greek” week – I cooked lots of Greek-style food and also received a bunch of Greek yogurt from Stoneyfield to use however I wanted. Fun! I’ll start with the meal:

I really love Greek food – really really love it. Only thing is, I never really make it. Finally, I saw a couple of great-looking recipes on my favorite food blog, For The Love of Cooking. She had a recipe for Greek Chicken Thighs (pictured above) and Greek Salad – perfect! So I set out to make my own little Greek feast. Both of these recipes were super easy and took no time to make. I think this was one of Hubby’s favorite meals I’ve ever made – he loved the combination of flavors. The chicken thighs were awesome, but my favorite was the salad – I’ll definitely be making that one over and over again – in my opinion, it tasted better than a restaurant’s!

Greek Chicken Thighs
-For the Love of Cooking

2 tsp olive oil, divided
1-2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
1 clove of garlic, minced
6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
Handful of grape tomatoes
Small handful of kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/2-1 lemon juiced
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (divided)
2 tbsp low fat feta cheese

*I also chopped up some roasted red peppers and threw them in – it was great!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1/2 tsp of olive oil in an OVEN SAFE skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently until soft and tender (about 2 minutes), add garlic and cook for an additional 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil to the same skillet and turn the heat up to medium high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano to taste on each side. Once the pan is very hot, add the seasoned chicken breast to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown on one side, flip the chicken and add the grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, shallot and garlic mixture, lemon zest, lemon juice and half the parsley then season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Place in the oven and roast for 9-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and the feta cheese. *I served mine over Couscous, but rice or pasta would be great too.

Greek Salad
-For the Love of Cooking

For the Salad:

Romaine lettuce, chopped
Kalamata olives
Grape tomatoes
Cucumber, seeded and chopped
Feta cheese
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

For the Lemon Garlic Dressing:

6 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (I used a microplane to grate mine in)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Whisk all ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Taste and re-season if needed. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve.

And now for the yogurt! A few weeks back, a representative of Stoneyfield Farm asked if I would be interested in trying their new Greek yogurt cups….heck yeah, I would! I had actually never tried Greek yogurt, so I was super excited to try this.  The verdict: Ohmygawh amazing! Greek yogurt is my new favorite!! It’s so thick and creamy…YUM! And I especially liked the flavored ones – they had blueberry, honey and vanilla. The honey was by far my favorite- the honey is at the bottom and you stir it in….so freaking good! (And I promise I’m not just saying that for the Stoneyfield people…these really were amazing). I don’t know if I was supposed to cook something with the yogurt or just eat it. Hopefully just eat it, because that’s what I did – they were so good by themselves, I didn’t want to use them to cook with. I’m selfish like that, I guess….

And that pretty much brings us to the end of my Greek Week…give the chicken thighs and salad a try – you definitely won’t be sorry!! Hope everyone has a happy Memorial Day on Monday – enjoy your weekend!