Quinoa Tabbouleh With a Poblano and Lime Twist

I love Sunday Market days in Miramar. My menus are inspired by the freshest ingredients. I planted herbs on my deck and the landscaper assures me that the plants and soil are organic. Call me a skeptic but I’m guessing my herb garden would not get the organic seal of approval in the states. I have learned to accept that I eat more pesticides in Mexico than I do in the U.S. but at least I’m in charge of what goes on my herbs after they are planted. This recipe showcases my fresh parsley and mint. The tomatoes are readily available and vine ripened so I can enjoy them year round.

Quinoa is available in our larger supermarkets and in specialty shops that cater to expats. The price is equivalent to U.S. prices which means it is ridiculously expensive by Mexican standards. Quinoa has more protein and nutritional value than bulgar and it’s easier to find, thus the quinoa in this tabbouleh. Lemons are difficult to impossible to find here so I often substitute key lime juice for lemon juice.
I added poblano peppers for a mild spicy kick and a Mexican flare. This salad is a superfood power house.

Enjoy with homemade hummus and tortillas in a vegan wrap or as a side dish for grilled chicken or fish.

Savor every bite.

I’m late for the party but I’m taking my salad to Fiesta Friday where you can find more delicious recipes.
This week’s co-hosts are Zeba and Jhuls.

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Quinoa Tabboleah With a Poblano and Lime Twist

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large cucumber cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped poblano pepper

PREPARATION

Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, whisk lime juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Let quinoa cool and transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing.
Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently with the remaining dressing.
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Crispy Panko Jalapeño Peppers

jalapeño poppers

We rarely eat American bar food when we are in the States but who doesn’t love a deep fried jalapeño popper? Sometimes a greasy appetizer and a cold beer just hit the spot.

This is a BBQ version of poppers made crispy with a Panko topping instead of deep frying. These are not picante if you remove the seeds and ribs. Leave some ribs if you like it hot! The recipe showcases the ubiquitous jalapeño peppers and cheeses of Mexico. There are limited varieties of cheeses available in rural Mexico so I have learned to work with the substitutions and the results can be delicious. I do worry a little about buying raw goat milk cheeses from the open air market where I buy all of my produce. There is always a chance of bacterial contamination when consuming unpasteurized dairy products. As a precaution, if you are pregnant, I would advice against eating local raw milk cheeses. The freshest cheeses can be purchased directly from the local goat ranchers and you can see the adorable baby goats while you’re visiting.
I’m taking my appetizer to Fiesta Friday.

 

Crispy Panko Jalapeño Poppers
Servings: 24 poppers

Ingredients:
• 12 jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise. Seeds and ribs removed
• 8 oz quéso crema (cream cheese), let soften on the counter for 15 minutes.
• 1/2 cup shredded Chihuahua or Queso de Oaxaca (I found cheddar cheese at a specialty deli but it isn’t widely available)
• 2 tablespoons of crispy tocino (bacon)
1 1/4 cup Panko
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Variations: Mix in 1/4 cup green onions chopped or chopped cilantro or minced sweet red pepper. Substitute chorizo for the bacon or leave out the meat for a vegetarian appetizer. If Panko is not available substitute dried bread crumbs.

Directions
1. Wash and slice peppers. Use gloves to keep your hands from burning. Leave 1/2 of the stem attached to each piece. Remove seeds and ribs.
2. Mix remaining ingredients with a fork until combined.
3. Fill each half pepper with a heaping spoonful of cheese mixture. Mix panko and olive oil and top each pepper with a scant tablespoon of the mixture.
4. Grill in the barbecue on medium heat until peppers are soft, slightly blackened and the Panko is crisp. If your barbecue has a broiler element then you can quickly broil the peppers for a more crispy topping. Watch closely and don’t burn them.

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La Gringa Cooks: Flips & Flops, Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Peppers

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FLIPS & FLOPS

I’m sure you noticed the new header on What’s for dinner, Doc? Who can resist a pelican? My new series La Grinda Cooks became La Gringa Cooks: Flips & Flops from Baja, Mexico. The title speaks for itself but the idea for the flips & flops came while standing in my kitchen dressed in my kitchen uniform, shorts and you guessed it, flip-flops. Dreaming and waiting for my fresh pepper cheese to form lovely curds and whey, I caught a glimpse of the Sea of Cortez. Ok, to be fair it’s a sliver of blue ocean, if I stand on tip toes and tilt my head at a 45 degree angle south 😎. Anyway I waited and waited and waited. No beautiful curds, no clear whey, just a mess of salted acidic milk.

A Major FLOP. I have had other flops while trying to adapt my culinary skills to the climate, ingredients and flair of Mexican cuisine. So travel with me, summer attire optional, as I explore the best of the flips (hits) and flops (mishaps) in my Baja kitchen.

Now that I’ve peaked your interest and whet your appetite for acidic, salted milky cheese here’s the flop.

When milk does not becomes cheese:

Making quéso fresco is easy and I’ve succeeded many times in the U.S. You can find the recipe here. I purchased readily available pasteurized whole cow’s milk (leche de vaca entera) and white vinegar (vinagre blanco). I finely chopped jalapeño and red bell pepper in anticipation of making Quéso Fresco con Pimientos. The local goat ranchers make a fresh fabulous quéso and I was sure that I could recreate one with cow milk. I followed the directions exactly. The milk partially separated but the curds were minuscule and there was never a clear whey layer. The problem it seems was the milk. Mexican milk has less protein than U.S. milk and that can affect curd yield. The lower protein content makes it difficult to froth the milk for a cappuccino also. The most likely reason for cheese to fail is old milk which is too acidic or the milk has been ultra-pasteurized. The milk didn’t say ultra-pasteurized but who knows, it could have been. When in doubt, blame the milk. Next time I will use fresh goat milk from a local rancher. Stay tuned. I salvaged the thickened milky cheese layer from the sack cloth, added diced jalapeño pepper and red bell pepper and a sauce was born. I turned that flop into a flip with a slight of hand.

 
Finally the Recipe

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Poblano and Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients:
2 medium to large sweet potatoes (yams)
1 red onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 poblano pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Scrub vegetables and sweet potatoes, I leave the peel for more fiber and nutrition. Dice into 1 inch pieces, mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Microwave for 5 minutes to soft the potatoes. Grill in a grill basket over medium heat, 350-375F, until soft and slightly charred. Serve plain or drizzle with plain yogurt, la crema, or failed quéso fresco. Eat as a side dish with grilled meat or as a vegetarian entrée by adding legumes, nuts or more dairy to increase the protein content.

Savor every bite and enjoy the journey.
I’m taking this easy side dish to Fiesta Friday where you can find delicious recipes from around the globe.

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La Gringa Cooks, Pollo Rellenos Con Pina Salsa

Pollo Rellenos
Living the expat life in rural Mexico gives me a new appreciation of “cooking locally” and I am excited to begin a new series called, La Gringa Cooks. I have adapted many recipes to accommodate new ingredients, new cooking methods and work arounds for favorite meals all while keeping healthy and fit. I’ll share my hits and flops from the my beach kitchen in Baja Mexico.

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There is no Trader Joes or World Market around the corner for exotic spices and prepared spices or meals. There is no Whole Foods with a rainbow of vegetables and fruits. What I do have is a Sunday Market where fresh local produce is sold for pennies. I can buy a weeks worth of fruits and vegetables for a family of two for about $8 USD. We have incredible fishing in the Sea of Cortez and very lean meats. There are no fat cows or pigs here.

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Today’s recipe was inspired by Angie’s Fiesta Friday Healthy Challenge image

To see more healthy recipes go here.
She has given us pineapple (pina) and a green leafy vegetable to create a healthy meal. Swiss chard is delicious at the moment and fresh pineapples are a staple here.

Chicken Stuffed With Chard and Warm Pineapple Salsa
Servings:2
Difficulty: Easy but looks fancy

Ingredients:

For Stuffed Chicken

2 chicken breasts boned and skinned
2 slices prosciutto or Serrano jamon
1 bunch fresh chard leaves
2 cloves garlic minced
Black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth

For Pineapple Salsa

1 cup fresh or canned pineapple
1/4 chopped red onion
2 tablespoons pineapple jelly
1/4 to 1 tsp finely chopped serrano chile, to taste

Recipe

Wash chard carefully, strip the leaves from the stems and rough chop the washed leaves. Sauté minced garlic in a splash of heated olive oil until fragrant in a skillet. Add chard and sauté until wilted. Remove chard and set aside.

Prepare chicken breasts by skinning and deboning or buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Slice partially through each individual breast. Pepper but do not salt the meat. Stuff each breast with a generous 1/3 cup of chard. Fold breast pieces over the stuffing and wrap with Serrano ham slices. Secure with toothpicks.
Reheat skillet with a generous splash of olive oil and grill chicken breasts on medium heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. A splash of white wine works wonders to deglaze the pan and keep the chicken moist while cooking.

While chicken cooks. Cut and prepare the pineapple if using fresh into small chucks. Chop onion and chile. Sauté onions until fragrant and add pineapple, chile and jelly. Gentle sauté until pineapple is soft.

Serve chicken breasts whole or slice and serve with warm salsa.
Enjoy with a glass of Mexican Chardonnay.

An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.

What’s For Dinner Doc has never been a political blog but I have spent 3 decades providing healthcare to women and I can’t stand by and ignore Mr. Trump’s words and actions against women. I’m a registered Republican but I vote my principles before party. I couldn’t have said it better than this. We will never go back to Mr. Trump’s “great America” when sexual harassment and assault were ignored as “locker room” antics, inequality in pay was accepted and women were expected to remain silent. You have a voice and a vote – use it. Read the full letter with an open heart and ask yourself how do you want the women in your life to be treated.

Dear Mr. Trump… can I call you Mr. Trump? Is that ok? I want you to be happy, that’s very important to me. Before I get started, let me say this letter isn’t from all women. The T…

Source: An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.

Salmon in Yellow Thai Curry

Salmon and yellow Thai curry

I try to eat fresh local foods so living on a lake in rural Northern California can somewhat limit my food choices. We almost never eat out and when we do there are certainly no ethnic restaurants, unless you count Mexican cuisine as ethnic. Mexican food is a mainstay of the western U.S. food culture and you can find a Mexican food restaurant in almost every little town. And thank goodness for that!
Anyway….. I was craving Thai food and we certainly don’t have a Thai restaurant within 100 miles so I went searching for a meal to make at home.

I usually have salmon in the freezer so that was my starting ingredient. I found an easy to follow recipe by Lindsay at Pinch of Yum for a yellow Thai curry paste @PinchofYum The ingredients were readily available except for the lemon grass paste so I used a squeeze of lime juice.
I picked Thai and Sweet Basil from my deck garden, opened a can of coconut milk, grated some ginger and this recipe was born. I served the salmon over rice noodles and fresh asparagus for a dinner party worthy meal.

Salmon and yellow Thai curry

Recipe

Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a deep sauce pan. Add skin on salmon filets and cook for 3 minutes per side. Combine 1-3 tablespoons of yellow curry paste with 14 ounces of coconut milk and add to salmon. Simmer 10 minutes. Add a generous 1/2 cup of fresh chopped sweet basil and Thai basil (if you have some hanging around). Serve over jasmine rice, zunoodles, rice noodles or any steamed vegetable.

I’m taking my Thai craving over to Fiesta Friday. You’ll find many delicious and inspirational posts at the party. Come join us.

Indian Spiced Chicken Tacos With Tomato Jam

Indian Spiced Tacos

#TacoTuesdays for Fiesta Friday. See more great recipes here.

I have decided that almost anything can be eaten in a tortilla. A small corn tortilla stuffed with protein and vegetables is a perfect addition to a low carbohydrate lifestyle. I start with fish or chicken and add greens, other vegetables, a spicy salsa and sometimes a sprinkle of full flavor cheese. This recipe took a detour away from Tex-Mex and ended up being a chicken taco infused with Indian curry spices, a sweet hot tomato jam and cool crisp pickled onions. It is spicy, sweet, crunchy and delicious.

I used short cuts by buying yellow curry sauce from Trader Joes and I used canned organic tomatoes instead of fresh for the tomato jam. I marinated boneless, skinless chicken breast while the tomato jam cooked and the onions pickled. I grilled the chicken and the tortillas on the barbecue. The tacos were built at the table. A sprinkle of feta cheese gave a salty finish. Each component of the recipe is simple and the preparation is quick. I’m taking these tasty and original Tuesday tacos to Fiesta Friday. Ole and namaste.

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Marinate Chicken

Marinate chicken at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. I used Trader Joes Yellow Curry sauce or make a marinade with plain yogurt with a teaspoon each of ground cumin, cayenne, mustard seed and tumeric.

Make Tomato Jam

Sautéed 1/2 cup chopped onion in olive oil under translucent in a sauce pan. Add a 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, with no salt or flavors, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger, 1-2 teaspoons siracha, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon mustard seed or grainy mustard, 1 tablespoon lime juice or cider vinegar and simmer 30 minutes until thicken and
jammie.

Make Brine for Pickled Onions

Combine 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Heat until sugar dissolves. Slice one red onion into thin rings and place in a mason jar. Pour brine over onions and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. I think these are best made ahead and served chilled, but they are ready to eat in 1 hour.

Grill Chicken
Grill chicken breasts or boneless thighs until done but not dry. About 15 minutes depending on the thickness. Cut into bite sized strips. Grill corn tortillas until lightly browned.

Assemble tacos
Layer tortilla with chicken, tomato jam, arugula or lettuce, a generous serving of pickled onion and a sprinkle of feta cheese. For more heat add a squeeze of siracha.
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Grilled Enchilada Sauce

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If you’re feeling the need to spice up your every day meals try adding a chile and tomato based sauce. I serve this over grilled vegetables, chili rellenos, grilled chicken and of course in enchiladas. Start with fresh ripe tomatoes for the best sauce. Any dried chile will work but I prefer New Mexican chiles. This sauce is simple to make and the barbecue adds a nice smokey flavor so don’t skip it. Continue reading

Turkey, Apple, Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m bored with my mostly Paleo diet. Protein plus veggies and fruit. Rewind and repeat. I’m guessing that even a cave woman would have branched out to add some pizazz to her diet given the chance.
Paleo works for me and I’m thinner and fitter than I have ever been as an adult but I haven’t been exploring or creating foods that make me healthy AND happy.

Back to School in Spain

Back to School in Spain

Be extension, I have completely neglected this blog, my first and favorite blog.

I’m trying out new flavor packed “real food” recipes and you can come along for the ride.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the planning, recipe writing and photographing and give up before I even start to write. Today I remembered that all of my blog buddies just use recipes as a starting point or as inspiration for their own creations and they don’t expect perfection.

Besides, my messy posts make theirs look so much fancier. 😋 So here’s a not so perfect blog post with a delicious and healthy recipe for you to enjoy as is, modify at will or save for a day when you are feeling bored with food.
For more awesome recipes to try this weekend jump over to Fiesta Friday and see what’s cooking.

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Turkey, Apple, Carmelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe yields 6 large or 12 small mushroom servings.

Ingredients:
6 baby portobello or 12 cremimi mushrooms, stems removed and chopped.
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1/2 Granny Smith or Fuji apple, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1-3 leaves of fresh sage chopped, I used pineapple sage, or 1 tsp dried sage.
Optional: 1-2 ounces goat cheese crumbled if you eat dairy. I added the cheese and was happy with its binding capacity and flavor punch but you can skip it and enjoy a more crumbly texture or substitute an egg for moisture and binding.

Caramelize Onion
Thinly slice the onion into rings. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a dash of salt. Cook onion, stirring occasionally until golden brown. About 30 minutes. Set aside in a serving dish.

Prepare the turkey mixture
Add remaining oil to pan and add chopped apple, chopped mushroom stems, sage, minced garlic and ground turkey. Sauté until apples are softened and turkey is lightly browned. Stir goat cheese into meat mixture and combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Fill mushroom caps with meat and cheese mixture.

Bake on a lined cookie sheet at 400 degrees F until browned and mushrooms are soft. 25-30 minutes.

Serve over greens and top with caramelized onions or serve as an appetizer if you prefer.
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The Passion of Flamenco, It Holds You Fast

Sevilla, España

All around you, swift, so swift,
it comes, it goes, and then returns …
you think you hold it fast, it flees
you think you’re free, it holds you fast.

Continue reading