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Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Quickly Chop or Dice a Bell Pepper

I have never claimed to know what I am doing in the kitchen but one thing I do know how to do is make things quicker and easier.  Fresh veggies are a key in my eating healthy plan so I am constantly chopping and dicing! I am not a master at hand chopping or dicing but as a busy mom I love making my dinner recipes simple and easy in preparation.  I wanted to share how I dice or chop a bell pepper in 60 seconds or less.  I will admit that chopping or dicing a bell pepper use to take me longer than putting together the whole rest of my quick dish.  I learned quickly that if I could not get my vegetables prepared quickly my dinner would not be a quick fix.  If I had this problem I am guessing others may find this interesting as well!  So here we go.
Step #1: Cut the top and bottom off the bell pepper

Step #2: Use your hands to clean out the insides and put aside

Step #3: slice the pepper into 3 or 4 sections while it is standing on end as shown.

Step #4: Use a chopper!  I didn’t say I was a chef that could quickly dice or chop peppers… this will save you so much time and make everything very uniform and pretty.  If you do not have a chopper it is easy to now dice or chop the pepper in this form with a knife.

Step #5: Enjoy

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fresh & Green Quinoa Salad

Who would like to take all these amazing refreshing ingredients and turn them into something delicious and easy?  That is exactly what we are going to do!  I live in Ohio and God decided to send us summer right now with beautiful weather that could even reach the 80’s today… in March… I am not complaining.  I am in the mood for something fresh and full of detoxifying ingredients so I thought about making my favorite quinoa salad with refreshing greens!  Please do not fret if you don’t have all the ingredients I am using, you can make this dinner recipe simple by leaving out ingredients you don’t have or do not like.  As we get started remember to make this salad your own by customizing as you feel led to.

Fresh & Quinoa Salad
(Serves 6-8)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup arugula finely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1/2  cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
  •   ½ cup cranberries
  • 6 green onions, chopped fine
  • 1 large organic yellow or green bell pepper, stemmed and diced
  • 1 large organic red bell pepper, stemmed and diced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Step #1: Make your quinoa and put in refrigerator when finished to get cool…  During this process chop and dice your vegetables.
Wondering what quinoa is or where to find it?  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) was referred to as the “Mother Grain” in the Inca culture.  They considered it a wonder food, just as today it is billed as a super grain because it is high in protein, fiber and many vitamins and minerals.  You can find it in the health food section or by the rice in most grocery stores.  I buy organic quinoa at Costco in a 5lb bag which makes it very economic compared to other places.  

For perfect cooked quinoa every time, here are some of Chef Brian’s tips:

  • Rinse dry quinoa seeds to remove residual soapy coating called "saponin".  I use a fine mesh colander to do this.
  • 1 cup dry quinoa yields 3 cups cooked. 
  • To cook, double the amount of water to dry quinoa (1 cup dry quinoa - use 2 cups water to boil, etc.).
  • Add quinoa to water in saucepan (uncovered) and bring to rolling boil.  Turn down heat to low or simmer and cover saucepan for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn off heat, let saucepan sit (covered) on same burner for an additional 4-8 minutes depending how you like the texture (shorter time for slightly crunchy (al-dente) and longer for lighter and fluffier).
  • Uncover and fluff with a fork to allow to cool before serving.  For this recipe cool completely before adding ingredients together.

Step #2:  In a large bowl add all dry ingredients except quinoa.  To make this really quick use a chopper to dice and chop  the bell peppers, cilantro, arugula and green onions.  

Step #3: In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, cumin, salt and lemon juice. Whisk ingredients together.

Step #4: Add cooled quinoa and pour olive oil mixture over all.

Step #5: Mix together and allow the flavors to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.  


Enjoy the blessings that are sent your way every day and remember that being grateful in every moment even when circumstances look dreary is a choice that brings freedom. 
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