Roasted Vegetables and Farro Salad

To debut farro to my husband, I knew I had to came up with a great recipe that would blow him away. This recipe did the trick; he is sold! I love being able to make a stockpile of farro that I can repurpose in multiple recipes throughout the week. It’s versatility is great and it’s a perfect alternative side to couscous or rice. This recipe is not only husband-approved but also a unique potluck dish. For a complete dinner, try pairing it with my Habanero & Green Pepper Crusted Tilapia.

Roasted Vegetables and Farro Salad

Equipment:

  • Mixing bowls
  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pam

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15.25 oz) of corn
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1-2 cups of cooked farro

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450º.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add corn, peppers, and onion. Toss to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Keep any remaining dressing to add to the farro later.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the vegetables start to brown.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cooked farro, kale, cilantro, and roasted vegetables. Drizzle the remaining dressing from earlier or try a little bit of dijon vinaigrette and mix again.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and eat immediately or refrigerate for later.

Roasted Vegetable and Farro Salad 2

{A Hint of Ginger | Cooking Farro}: Check out my post on a how-to of cooking farro.

How to Cook Farro | Stove Top

I remember seeing farro on a menu at a restaurant and wondering what the heck it was, searching google on my phone before making my decision for lunch that day. I will admit that I went with a different option but now, a year later, I find that the salad bar at work is always stocked with farro. With every salad I get, I scoop on some farro on top of my salad loaded with roasted beets and avocado and love it! I wanted to also make farro at home and try out different recipes with it as an alternative to other side dishes.

If you are curious too, follow this stove top way of cooking farro and try yourself.

How to Cook Farro

Equipment:

  • Mesh sieve
  • Medium saucepan with cover

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Instructions:

  • Rinse farro in a mesh sieve with cold water and then drain.
  • Put rinsed farro into a medium saucepan along with chicken stock and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and boil for 25 minutes. The farro should be soft but still chewy. There will likely be liquid remaining at the end of the cook time, either drain out or reuse in another recipe.

Carrot & Coriander Soup with Crispy Chickpeas | Faux Fall

As we come up on almost a year in Rwanda, I’ve realized what a lack of changes in seasons will do to your concept of time. I was just speaking with someone the other day about how quickly time flies when you can’t truncate time with the passing of seasons. Even trying to do it with rainy and dry seasons proves difficult as these aren’t always apparent either.

As I decorate our house with fall decor including lots of pumpkins and orange colored items, I am missing the crisp air, changing colored leaves, crunchy leaves on the ground that as an adult I still love to step on as I walk to and from work, and the flavors of fall. But I can fake it just a little by putting on a sweater when we have cool fall-like mornings or nights, enjoying autumnal produce available here, and cooking up soups and other cool weather favorites.

Last weekend, I blended up this soup to eat while enjoying our fall decor. Whether you are experiencing it yourself in the US or you are trying to create your own faux-fall feel, try out this soup or my crockpot pumpkin soup, another great choice for a taste of fall.

Carrot and Coriander Soup with Chickpeas 3

Equipment:

  • Knife and cutting board
  • Large stock pot with lid
  • Blender

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pound of carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • A few tablespoons of milk, as desired

Instructions:

  • Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, garlic, and spices. Sauté until the carrots start to brown, then add chicken broth and simmer covered for 25 minutes.
  • Add soup to a blender and puree until smooth.
  • If you are eating immediately, add a few tablespoons of milk to the mixture or to each bowl.
  • Enjoy!

{A Hint of Ginger | Toppings}: Add these crispy chickpeas to the top for a little crunch.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Zoodles with Sautéed Vegetables | A Twist on Pasta

A few months ago, I found a great deal on a spiralizer & mandolin. I love collecting kitchen appliances for any use and our kitchen cabinets will prove that. And I never stop collecting or discovering what other tools I’d love to add to my kitchen. Still have yet to purchase a waffle maker though, despite my love for Belgian waffles and the nostalgia from my childhood.

Zoodles with Sautéed Vegetables

I have a husband who is not a fan of “fake” foods like mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes or spaghetti squash over pasta. Myself, I’ve been excited to try making zoodles, zucchini noodles. When I was younger, my mom and I ventured to make spaghetti squash to try out a healthier alternative. With my husband away last weekend, I thought it would have the perfect chance to try using my spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. Especially with our weight lose challenge I posted previously, I thought these noodles might be a great alternative and help me reach my goals. Of course, the trick is to ensure you don’t fill the healthy version with lots of unhealthy additives to make it tasty…i.e. lots of butter and mayo in mashed cauliflower making it no longer healthy.

Zoodles on a Fork

Equipment:

  • Spiralizer
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 really large zucchini or 3 medium size
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow squash, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, or other colors if you choose, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, more if desired
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  • Use the spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. With the extra zucchini, chop it into 1/2 inch pieces and sauté with the other vegetables. Spread out noodles onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake noodles at 200º for 10-12 minutes until the noodles are dry on the outside but still moist on the inside, mixing halfway through.
  • Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add veggies (except tomatoes), garlic, and red wine vinegar. Sauté until the veggies are softened and start to brown. Add basil and tomatoes in the last few minutes.
  • Add noodles to a pot of boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes. Drain noodles and separate into bowls. Top with the sautéed veggies and  season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Recipe makes 2 servings of pasta. Adjust ingredients if you want to make more servings. 

{A Hint of Ginger}: Don’t fret if you don’t have a spiralizer, there are many ways you can make them yourself with tools you likely already have in your kitchen. Try a cheese grater or a julienne peeler. 

 

Kale Power Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Kale Power Salad 2

As part of our weight loss challenge, I will be sharing with my family as well as with my blog’s readers a number of healthy recipes I’ve found along the way.

This power salad is packed full of goodness and it’s even pretty to look at.

Kale Power Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup of chopped kale, stem removed
  • 3/4 cup of purple cabbage, julienned
  • 6 tablespoons green pepper, julienned
  • 6 tablespoons carrot, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons peanuts, dry roasted and unsalted
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Instructions:

  • For individual take-to-work lunches, divide each ingredient in three separate containers and mix together. Refrigerate and eat within 3-4 days. Add dressing when you are ready to eat.
  • For a family meal, combine all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle dressing over top.

On a Fork - Kale Power Salad

Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • While whisking, add olive oil and continue until all ingredients are combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate between uses. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

For 21 day fixers out there: This recipe makes 3 servings each comprised of 2 green, 1 yellow, 1/2 blue, and 1 orange container. Making up this recipe at the beginning of the week gives you three days worth of lunches that are ready to grab and go!

Bring Your Lunch to Work - Kale Power Salad

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw | Easy and Blue Cheesy!

DSC_1049With weather warming up for the dry season, I keep reminiscing about our barbecues back in the US every summer and sometimes into the winter, too. My mouth has been watering to make this cole slaw dish to pair with the perfect grilling weather we are experiencing. Having never been a fan of cole slaw growing up, it took my cousin making this version to get me hooked on it as an adult. Now I’m in love with the cole slaw and it is a must around our house for barbecues and get togethers! DSC_1060Several months ago, I actually found blue cheese crumbles here, so I bought it and stashed it away for a later date…specifically to make this dish! It wasn’t until just last weekend, that we had a barbeque at our house, one of the first we’ve had since moving to Rwanda. And what was a key item on our menu?… of course, this barbecue must-have made an appearance along with burgers, brats, and tomato and red onion salad with a lemon, ginger, and habanero dressing.DSC_1064With 13 people sitting around our 6 person patio table all chatting, laughing, and having shots of tequila and throwing tennis balls for the four dogs running around the yard… we felt at home again! DSC_1066Ingredients:

  • Prepackaged cole slaw mix with purple cabbage and carrots
  • Small head of broccoli, chopped
  • Marzetti Cole Slaw dressing, add a little at a time until you coat the mix to your liking
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Blue Cheese crumbles, to your liking
  • Red onion, finely julienned
  • Slivered almonds, about 1/2 to 2/3 cup depending on how much you like

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes to several hours before serving to let it set together. Stir again before serving.

{A Hint of Ginger | Top it Off} Top off your Pulled Pork sandwiches at your next BBQ with this cole slaw mixture for a great blue cheesy taste.

Top it Off

 

Crockpot Pumpkin Soup

Crockpot Pumpkin Soup 3

With the plethora of pumpkins available year-round here and missing the taste of Panera’s Autumn Squash soup that I got hooked on last fall, I couldn’t resist finding a way to make my own version with the ingredients available here. Of course, Sundays are best when they are lazy and this last Sunday was no different using my crockpot to slowly soften the pumpkin, reducing the amount of hands-on time I had to devote to this dish. Whether you need one last soup before the warmth of spring and summer or you want a taste of fall, try out this pumpkin soup next weekend and ENJOY!Crockpot Pumpkin Soup - Ingredients

Equipment:

  • Crockpot
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Microplane grater

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of fresh pumpkin (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium apple (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions:

  • Add pumpkin and butter to crockpot over the high setting. Once butter has melted, stir to coat pumpkin with butter and then cook for 1 hour on high.
  • Then, add chicken stock, onion, apple, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir to combine and cook for another 4-5 hours on high.
  • Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients into soup. Add milk and then blend again to combine.
  • Serve with an autumn salad and enjoy!

{A Hint of Ginger | Freezing Options}: As this recipe makes a large quantity of soup, you may choose to freeze some for a later time. If you do, omit the milk for the portion you freeze. Add the milk when you defrost the soup.

{A Hint of Ginger | Toppings}: While chopping up the pumpkin, keep some of the seeds to roast and top the soup with before serving.

Crockpot Pumpkin Soup

Hamburger Buns | Make It Yourself Series

During the first week after arriving in Rwanda, right before Christmas, I found myself searching through the local grocery stores to find ingredients for recipes that I wanted to make and bring to the parties we had been invited to. I quickly understood what everyone had prepared me for…be ready to have to go to multiple places to get all your shopping done as well as to buy it if you see it because it might not be available tomorrow. With limited supplies in our kitchen until our household goods arrived, I felt limited in what I could make. At first, I became overwhelmed, imagining two years of not having everything at my disposal like I did at home. Once that initial shock wore off and I had successfully made several dishes, I began to realize the opportunity I was now being afforded. Hamburger Buns - Dough

In the States, I would say…”I could totally make this from scratch myself!” This usually never happened because I would always over-extend myself with whatever get-together we were having and find myself having to resort to store-bought versions to preserve my sanity. Instead of giving up the recipes I am used to, I now have the opportunity to put new spins on it with local ingredients or ditch the store bought, not-all-that-good-for-you-versions for homemade ones! This internal panic…I mean discussion, has lead me to do this {Make it Yourself} series. I’ll showcase my attempts at making my own versions of some of our favorites. Here are a few things I am thinking about trying to make from scratch: potato rolls, hoagie rolls, crescent dough (you can’t make Crescent-wrapped Baked Brie without CRESCENT DOUGH!), potato chips (salt and vinegar & jalapeno are the favorites of my husband and I), dog treats (our two pups deserve to be spoiled, too), pop tarts, bagels, pretzels, hummus, and whatever else inspires me or what I discover I can’t find. But today, I will share with you my first homemade success…HAMBURGER BUNS!Hamburger Buns

Two weekends ago, we had our first get-together at our house after arriving in Rwanda. We are big fans of hosting whether it’s a cook-out or a themed party or shower. Both my husband and I enjoy planning menus, making delicious food, and treating our friends to our creations. This time we decided to make hamburgers on our charcoal grill. Of course, hamburgers aren’t a staple on many menus here and are not commonly made so buns for them are only usually made by custom order. I took this as a challenge to make my own from scratch. Although slightly anemic-looking because of lighter colored yolks in the eggs here, I was happy with how they turned out. If you find yourself without access to buns or just want to try making them yourself, try out this recipe. Hamburger Buns - Burger

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wax paper/plastic wrap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Baking sheets
  • Wire rack

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of yeast
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups of flour

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 310º (if you are at higher altitudes, or 325º if you are not).
  • Dissolve the yeast in a large mixing bowl of warm water. Make sure your 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of water is at 110º before adding to the bowl. The yeast should be fully dissolved in about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add egg and salt to the bowl once the yeast is dissolved. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time until it becomes a soft dough.
  • Put the dough onto a floured surface. I prefer to wax paper but I realized I didn’t have any on hand so I used plastic wrap instead which worked just fine. Knead the dough until it is soft and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add additional flour if the dough is too tacky.
  • Divide the dough into 8-12 rolls (depending on the size of your hamburger patties). If you’d like perfectly round buns, be sure to pinch together any seams in the dough. Place on aluminum foil-lined and greased baking sheet. You should leave 2-3 inches between each roll.
  • * I like to sprinkle cornmeal on the baking sheet prior to putting dough on the pan but didn’t have any in stock when I made this. The cornmeal will help prevent the bottoms from sticking.*
  • Before putting the dough in the pre-heated oven, cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 15 minutes.
  • Take a knife and make two shallow cuts in a cross shape or two parallel lines.
  • Bake the rolls for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Then, transfer them to wire racks and allow to cool. Use now or freeze for later.

{A Hint of Ginger | High Altitude Baking}: At Kigali’s 5,000 feet above sea-level, I usually drop the temperature down by about 15º. Some recipes also require additional flour and liquid ingredients as well as less baking powder. I recently tried to make a cupcake recipe that I love making but my cupcakes essentially exploded into a sheet cake in the oven. After talking to other people here and researching online, I found that using about a 1/4 less baking powder than the recipe calls for is a good rule of thumb, although it will obviously depend on the recipe itself so it is a lot of winging it and hoping it turns out right!

{A Hint of Ginger | Changing it up}: If you’d like to add a little something to your rolls, you can make an egg wash and then brush it on the buns before putting in the oven. You can then add sesame seeds, salt, or any other topping or spice you’d like to add a little extra to the buns.

Basil and Spinach Pesto | For Now or Later

Basil and Spinach Pesto  Freeze for Later

Since we arrived in Rwanda, I have been dying to make pesto from scratch to have on hand for pasta. With all the basil you get at once from the market, I thought this would be a perfect way to use it all before it goes bad. I splurged for pine nuts at the local supermarket full of excitement to make pesto…only to remember when I got home that our food processor was still making its way to us in our household effects shipment. So, several weeks later, my excitement has only increased and my desire to make my own pesto has finally been satisfied!

After several days straight of unpacking following the arrival of our stuff, it was a wanted and necessary break to spend time in the kitchen creating something delicious to share with you all. It was just what I needed at the end of a long day trying to organize and decorate our home in Africa. A coaster I unpacked today accurately captured how I felt by the end of the day…my mood ring indicates Chardonnay! So with a glass of wine and my food processor, I blended up this bright sauce for a fresh tortellini dinner.

My mood ring indicates chardonnay

Equipment:

  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Small skillet pan
  • Food processor
  • Rubber spatula

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup basil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided

Instructions:

  • Heat skillet over medium heat and then add pine nuts. Toast nuts until they are just golden. Move frequently to prevent burning.
  • Add spinach, basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese to a food processor. Blend until all the ingredients start to combine. While the mixer is still on, add ¼ cup of olive oil at a time until blended well. Scrape the sides to make sure it all mixes together.
  • Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.

{A Hint of Ginger | Garnish}: For tonight’s dinner, I added the basil and spinach pesto to a bowl of four cheese tortellini and topped with zucchini ribbons.

 To make the ribbons for yours as well:

  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add zucchini ribbons, a dash of red wine vinegar, squeeze a little lemon juice left from making the pesto, and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Sauté for just a couple minutes until your ribbons are warmed. Add to your tortellini and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Bon Appétit!Tortellini with Basil and Spinach Pesto

Beet, Orange, and Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Normally in February I would be loading myself up with soups, stews, and oven-roasted root vegetables to warm me up from the cold weather and snow outside. But this year, I’m enjoying 70 to 80 degree weather here in Rwanda and it leaves me craving fresh, light, and citrus ingredients. This salad is one that you can add to or change up in your own way but is a perfectly fresh, crunchy salad that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner. My husband and I have long talked about using fennel in our cooking but have yet to do it, until today! Of course, I really didn’t know how to properly use it, chop it, etc. So, I read through Better Homes & Gardens | How to Chop Fennel article. I highly recommend it if you are like me and new to using fennel in your cooking.

Beet, Orange, and Fennel Salad

Equipment:

  • Knife and cutting board
  • Small skillet
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red onion, julienned
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • Dash of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 -4 cups of spinach
  • 1 beet, peeled and thinly sliced and then halved
  • 1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced and then halved
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • For dressing:
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions:

  • In a small skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add red onion and fennel. Season with salt and pepper and add a dash of red wine vinegar to the skilled. Saute for a few minutes to take the harshness out of the raw onion but so that it still has some crunch.
  • Assemble salad ingredients in bowls {if you are serving at a party, assemble on a platter}. 
  • Top salad with sauteed onions and fennel.
  • For citrus vinaigrette: in a small mixing bowl, combine juices, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk together. Slowly add in olive oil while whisking until thoroughly combined.
  • Drizzle dressing on top of assembled salad.

{A Hint of Ginger | Pairings}: This salad is made even better when topped with my Coriander and Lemon Chicken.