Healthy Quinoa Casserole

Healthy Quinoa Casserole
Happy 2016! I’m back after large portions dinners, family, friends and a reasonable amount of party. With my husband and a friend we spent a few days in Crans Montana, even if the snow was sadly scarce, we still had a great time strolling around, tasting wine, treating ourselves to great foods like alpine cheese, fondue, pastries, Argentinean beef on a hot stone… Continue reading

Like many, the beginning of January is ideally for me a detox period. This doesn’t mean I’ll have steamed veggies and water, but at least no alcohol, no meat and not too many sugary and/or fatty foods. So to please myself with healthy food I made a healthy quinoa casserole where the use of cheese is limited and the white sauce contains no butter. A little over a year ago I made the Swiss grape juice pie and although a sweet treat, this recipe required a form of white sauce. Today’s recipe was a great opportunity to re-use such cooking process. With the light béchamel sauce I added the goodness of quinoa, carrots and kale to complement the healthy recipe aura.


Healthy Quinoa Casserole

Healthy Quinoa Casserole

Recipe for 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main meal

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 45 min
Ingredients:

120 g quinoa

120 g carrots

120 g kale

1 red onion

60 g grated Gruyere

1 tbsp. butter

50 g flour

2.5 dl milk

2.5 dl vegetable stock (alternatively replace this part with more milk)

salt and pepper

Topping:

20 g grated Gruyere

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs

3 tbsp. milk

(optional: 1 tbsp. butter)

 

Recipe:

Place the quinoa in a pan in two times its volume of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 13-15 min. Set aside once done.

Wilt the kale in a pan over medium heat with a couple tbsp. water until the leaves have softened then set aside.

Prepare the white sauce by placing the flour in a bowl and adding a little milk. Whisk until the ingredients are combined and gradually add the rest of the milk and the stock. Transfer to a pan with high sides and heat the white sauce by constantly stirring. Once the preparation has thickened, remove form the fire and add the grated cheese and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chop the onion and cut the carrot into small cubes of about 0.5 cm. To cut the carrots, start by slicing by their length into 0.5 pieces. Take each slice and cut strips out of them. Finally place the strips together and cut them into small cubes.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook on a low-medium heat for about 10 min or until the carrot has softened but is not mushy. Stir occasionally.

Coarsely chop the kale and add it to the carrots and onion along with the quinoa and the white sauce. Mix until all ingredients are combined and transfer to a baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp. milk and the grated cheese, mix and spread over the other ingredients. Optionally scatter a pieces of butter on top. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 min at 200°C.

Cauliflower Gruyere Soup

Cauliflower Gruyere Soup

It hasn’t snowed yet in the southern part of Switzerland but temperatures have significantly changed. When I wake up in the morning all seems frozen and this sight is enough to enter in soup mood. Continue reading

Most of the time I make something with the vegetables at hand but this time I felt like making something creamier. Cauliflower and cheese are a great flavour combination so instead baking it in a gratin or mixing it with some pasta; I thought this would be a nice alternative. In the beginning I thought of only making a cheese soup but then I changed my mind and in the end, I also added the cauliflower.

Cauliflower Gruyere Soup

 

Cauliflower Gruyere Soup

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time:20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

500 g cauliflower florets

240 g potatoes

160 g Gruyere cheese

2-3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp. butter

0.9-1 l vegetable stock

Pepper

 

Recipe:

Finely chop the garlic. Peel the potatoes and cut them into about 1 cm cubes. Eventually cut the florets into smaller pieces if they are very large. Coarsely grate the Gruyere cheese.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the garlic to cook on a low to medium fire for 4-5 min. Once it has softened add the potatoes and the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 min or until the potatoes you can easily insert a knife in them. Add the cauliflower florets and continue simmering for another 8-10 min.

Now you have two choices: either place everything in a food processor which will be more straightforward but the end result will be less smooth. The second alternative is to pass the soup through a strainer and set aside the liquid while you only process the solid ingredients before mixing everything back together.

Replace the soup on a low fire until it simmers again then remove it, add pepper to taste and the cheese and stir until it has melted. Serve with crusty bread and eventually top with dry roasted almonds, walnuts, chia seeds or whatever suits your taste.

 

 

Bread and Cheese Pudding

Bread and Cheese Pudding

The one thing I would really have trouble giving up is cheese. Maybe because I’m Swiss or maybe it’s because it just tastes amazing and it’s an ingredient you can just have so much fun with in the kitchen. Continue reading

This Bread and Cheese Pudding is something I have already tried last year but this time when I tried it, I found it’s better not having the bread stick out of the mix as I find it becomes too hard and dry. I tested this recipe on my mother and remarkably she took a second helping, which is not very common for her. Do I need to mention I had a second helping too? I took a recipe from the Swiss Cooking book from Betty Bossi and made a few changes to make this dish a little lighter. For instance I replaces the double cream by using plain cream and instead of using three eggs I just used two large ones. This Swiss recipe is just an easy, moist and very tasty dish.

 

 

Bread and Cheese Pudding

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

 

Ingredients:

350 g white bread

2 tbsp. soft butter (optional)

1 dl dry white wine (alternatively use white grape juice with a few drops of lemon in it)

3 dl milk

2 large eggs

150g semi hard cheese (Gruyere, Emmetaler…)

¾ tsp. salt

Pepper

2 dl cream

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 240°C.

Slice the bread into 1-1.5cm thick pieces. Optionally, butter each slice on one side with the butter and toast in the oven for about 5 min. Once done reduce the oven heat to 200°C. Place the bread slices in a baking dish by overlapping them.

In a bowl mix the milk with the eggs, salt and pepper.

Stiffly whisk the cream and gently fold it in with the milk/egg mix.

Pour over the bread slices and bake in the oven for 20 min.

Serve with a crunchy salad.

Butternut Pasta Bake

Butternut Pasta Bake

To think that until a few years ago the only times I ate anything with pumpkin I had it when someone cooked it for me… I’m happy this has changed. Continue reading

Honestly now that I’m back from my honeymoon, as much as country life is beautiful, now that I’ve re-spent some time in a city, I really miss it. I miss all the attractions and the possibility to talk to random people and so to keep my spirits up, I spend more time in the kitchen and in front of my computer, getting ahead with the novel I started some time ago. So yesterday within the realm of my kitchen, I’ve been making a pasta bake which is my favourite way of having this particular carb: it’s comforting and so tasty!

Butternut Pasta Bake

Recipe for 4
Cook time: 45 min
Prep time: 20 min

Ingredients:

800 g butternut (peeled and deseeded)
320 g short pasta (fusilli, penne, rigatoni…)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 red onion
3 tbsp. chopped sage
½ – 1 dl water or vegetable stock
3 dl cream
2 dl milk
2 knobs butter
Cayenne pepper
6 tbsp. grated cheese (+ 3-4 for topping
3 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Recipe:
Cut the butternut into cubes (the smaller the pieces the quicker they’ll cook), chop the onion and pass the garlic cloves through a garlic crusher.
Place a pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil and the onion. Cook for 4-5 min. stirring occasionally. Add the sage leaves and the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
Now add the butternut cubes and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes before pouring in a little water or alternatively some stock (about ½-1 dl). Preferably add the water little by little during the cooking process rather that all at once. Cover the pan and cook until the butternut will have become soft, don’t forget to stir occasionally.
Once the butternut is soft, transfer the content of the pan to a bowl and mash it with a potato masher or if you want a very smooth result use a food processor. Place the mass back in the pan (always on a medium fire), add the cream and the milk and combine the ingredients by stirring. Add the knob of butter and correct taste with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the pan from the fire and add the grated cheese and stir to combine.
While the butternut is softening or once the sauce is done, prepare the pasta in salted boiling water but make sure you cook it until just al dente or once you cook it in the oven it will become too soft. To stop the cooking process, once you drain the pasta pass it under cold water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
Transfer the ingredients to a lightly greased baking dish and top with the remaining grated cheese, breadcrumbs and pine nuts (optionally add small pieces of butter on top which will help the browning process). Bake in the oven at 190°C for about 20 min.

Sweet Potato Slices with Avocado Dip

Sweet Potato Slices with Avocado Dip
I’m back from my honeymoon! And I can say we had a great time in France. In ten days I managed to satisfy my history curiosity, to make my taste buds happy with good food and good wine and finally to calm down my shopping cravings. Continue reading

All this, I experienced in the company of my husband (well, he didn’t find the shopping part as exciting as I did). We spent five days in Paris then moved to Tours where we visited a few of the castles of the Loire Valley. Here are a few pictures of our trip.

We came back on Saturday night and on Sunday my mother came by to return my hairy and wet nosed house mate Kumo, and kindly she also brought me some groceries since I had little left to eat at home. It was not much but I managed to make my lunch a treat by baking these sweet potato slices with this avocado dip. As a base for my sweet potatoes I used the recipe I found on
foodfunandhappiness.

Sweet Potato Slices with Avocado Dip

Sweet Potato Slices with Avocado Dip

Recipe for 4
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30-35 min

Ingredients:

600 g sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
4 tbsp. finely grated cheese
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Salt

Dip:
2 avocadoes
2 tbsp. fresh cheese
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
Cayenne pepper
Salt

Recipe:
Heat oven at 190°C.
Wash the sweet potatoes and slice them into 0.5 cm pieces. Rinse them under the water to remove as much starch as possible and then dry them well using kitchen paper (this process will make them crispier).
In a bowl add the olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder; add the sweet potato slices and toss until evenly coated. Now add the breadcrumbs and the grated cheese and toss again.
Line a baking tray with oven paper and spread the potatoes on a single layer. Sprinkle any remaining grated cheese and breadcrumb mix left on top of the sweet potato slices. Bake in the oven for 30-35 min, turning them every 10-12 min.
Meanwhile prepare the dip by removing the flesh of the avocado and mashing it with a fork. Combine with the fresh cheese, the chopped onion and cayenne pepper and salt to taste.
Once the potatoes are done serve them immediately with the dip.

Roasted Butternut Mushroom and Quinoa Burgers

Roasted Butternut Mushroom and Quinoa Burgers Not being beach types we have finally found the destination for our honeymoon and it will be Paris and the Loire Valley: castles, history, food and wine all to be shared with my new husband! Since we’re not leaving for another couple of weeks I’ll keep enjoying my time here in Switzerland. Continue reading

I love living in a place where there are four distinct seasons, each is as enjoyable as the next for one reason or another. Autumn, not only has beautiful colours, it also has amazing produces and I’m always in for anything with squash or chestnuts. Last Saturday I stayed home getting ahead with my work but to keep my motivation up I felt like spoiling myself with a nice vegetarian burger… something I can hardly make when my husband is home because he loves his meat. After searching for a few ideas on what to cook, the quinoa burger idea grew on me and so I gave it a try. And in the end the roasted vegetables gave a great taste to this meal.

 

Roasted Butternut Mushroom and Quinoa Burgers

Recipe for 4

Cooking time: 30-35 min

Prep time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:

280 g butternut squash (peeled)

160 g button mushrooms

6 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

120 g quinoa

1 red onion (not too large)

Olive oil

¼- ½ tsp. smoked paprika

¾ tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 210°.

Place the quinoa in 1½ its volume in water and bring it to a boil until done, about 12-15 min. Once done set aside and let it cool a little.

Cut the butternut squash into cubes of 1.5-2 cm. Peel and slice the onion by its length and then cut it in half.

Place the butternut squash, the mushrooms and the onion pieces in a baking tin, drizzle with 1-1.5 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and bake in the oven for about 20 min. flipping the ingredients once or twice.

Once the vegetables are brown remove them from the oven and let them cool a little before finely chopping them.

In a bowl combine the chopped vegetables, quinoa, Parmesan cheese, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and a dash olive oil. Mix everything together and let it rest for about 30 min.

Once the time is up form four patties about 1.5-2 cm thick.

On a medium to high fire heat a couple tbsp. olive oil in a pan and add the burgers to brown on both sides, cook for about 3-5 min per side. Serve them either on their own or with a bun complete with your desired topping.

Sweet Potato Broccoli Tartlets

Sweet Potato Broccoli TartletsI’m always in for any recipe I can make where I just throw everything in a container of some sort, put it in the oven and just taste it once it’s done. Yeah, I like cooking although sometimes I feel a little lazy. Continue reading

So last week I was feeling adventurous and so I decided to give these tartlets a try. When I try new recipe out of my imagination I always feel a little tense and curious but once I saw and tasted the result, I was happy with myself. This is a recipe you cannot get wrong (unless you forget the tartlets in the oven), it’s made with simple and healthy ingredients and the sweet potatoes and the broccoli can easily be cooked in advance. With the days getting cooler I find that tarts and similar recipes go perfectly with the weather… maybe it’s an idea or maybe it’s the cookng method but I find that anything that comes out of the oven has a cosy side to it.

 

 

Sweet Potato Broccoli Tartlets

 

Recipe for 6×10.5 cm tartlet moulds

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: 30-35 min

 

Ingredients:

350 g peeled sweet potatoes

150 g broccoli florets

60 g grated Gruyere

3 generous tbsp. flour (+ extra for dusting the moulds)

½ tbsp. smoked paprika

1 egg

Salt and pepper

1 small tbsp. butter (+ extra to grease the moulds)

A handful of arugula leaves (optional)

 

Recipe :

Cut the sweet potatoes into chunks and boil them in salted water. Once they’re soft drain them.

Using the same pan bring another pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli florets by boiling them for 2 ½-3 min, drain them and place them in icy water. Remove them from the water and roughly chop them.

Mash the sweet potatoes add the flour and mix. Now add the smoked paprika, the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Mix all together and correct taste if needed. Add the egg and mix until it’s combined before adding the chopped broccoli.

Grease the aluminium moulds with butter and dust them with some flour. With a spatula or a spoon fill each mould until the top and even out the top surface. On top of each tartlet add a few pieces of butter.

Cook for about 20 min in a preheated oven at 200°C. Once done leave the tartlets a couple of minutes to cool before removing them from their moulds. If using them, top with arugula leaves and serve.

Spinach Cheese Puffs

Spinach Cheese Puffs Last Friday I had guests coming over and we had a raclette evening and used the cheese friends of mine produce in a nearby valley (the breathtaking Verzasca Valley). Continue reading

A raclette doesn’t require much cooking at all except for the boiling the potatoes, but I wanted to use my kitchen for something more so I made these gougères (cheese puffs) for the aperitif and I was happy to see they disappeared quicker than the dried meat I served. Cheese puffs are for me a really fun food to eat, they’re easy to make and always make a nice impression. So as a base for these cheese puffs I went on the marmiton.org site and then I just added the spinach and pine nuts. In the end this turned out to be an evening in honour of Swiss dairy … and oh, how I love this!

 

 

Spinach Cheese Puffs

Recipe for about 30 pieces

Prep time: 25-30 min

Cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients:

150 g fresh spinach

80 g butter

2.5 dl water

150 g sifted flour

4 eggs

150 g grated Swiss cheese (I used aged Gruyere)

Nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Optional: 2-3 tbsp. pine nuts

 

Recipe:

Turn on oven at 200°C.

In a pan cook the spinach until the leaves are soft. When they’re done let them slightly cool, place them in a tea towel and wring out as much excess moisture as possible. Place the spinach on a cutting board and finely chop them with a large knife.

In a high-sided pan bring the water and the butter to a boil, once it’s simmering add the flour all at once and stir vividly for a minute on a low fire with a wooden spatula, this will make the mass dry up. Remove from the fire a let the dough slightly cool. Add the eggs one by one stirring between each addition until the egg has been combined into the dough. Add the cheese, spinach, a little nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix everything together.

Line a baking tray with oven paper. Using a teaspoon make little balls and place them on the baking tray leaving a little space between each unit as they will grown in size. On top, if using them, place 3-4 pine nuts. Bake in the oven for about 25 min. With these quantities I made three batches and cooked them one at the time. Serve warm or cold.

Vegetarian Quinoa Balls

Vegetarian Quinoa Balls
So here we are, this is the last post before my wedding! Continue reading

Fortunately I’m trying to stay healthy with good food and exercise otherwise my patience and diplomacy could easily get lost on the way…especially for anything that has to do with hair and make up (things I usually avoid dedicating too much time on 😉 ). So for my last post as a non-wedded person I decided to make these vegetarian balls, which turned out surprisingly good, especially once I added the potato to make everything stick together. This is an easy recipe and the good thing is that the veggies and the quinoa can be cooked previously so that the final preparation will take less time to get done.

I hope you’ll enjoy it and keep fingers crossed for Saturday…may I not fall while walking down the aisle 😉

Vegetarian Quinoa Balls Vegetarian Quinoa Balls

 

Vegetarian Quinoa Balls

 

For about 13-14 balls

Pre time: 30 min

Cook time: 40 min

 

Ingredients:

1 bell pepper

1 corncob

1 red onion

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1-2 red chilli peppers

160 g boiled potatoes

90 g quinoa

300 g tofu

1.5 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves

1 large egg

2 tbsp. vegetable oil (+extra to grease the baking tray)

Salt

 

Recipe:

Cut off the top and the bottom of the bell pepper; remove the seeds and any other white part. Cut it in half and the cut it into 0.5 cm strips. Now chop the strips into 0.5 cm pieces.

Remove the grains from the corn by holding almost vertically and running the blade of a large knife downwards. Finally finely chop the onion.

Heat a non-stick pan on a medium fire; add 1 tbsp. oil with the chopped onion and cook for 4-5 min stirring regularly. Then add the bell pepper and the corn, season with salt and cook for about 8 minutes stirring regularly. Add the tomato paste and the chilli and cook for another 3-4 min.

In a high-sided pan add the portion of quinoa and two times its amount in water. Bring to a boil and let it simmer on a low fire for 15 minutes. Once done add it to the vegetables season with salt and let everything cool until lukewarm.

Mash the boiled potatoes and finely crumble the tofu. Add them to the vegetables and quinoa along with the coriander leaves and the egg. Mix until all is evenly distributed and with your hands form little balls of about 5 cm. Grease a baking dish and place the vegetarian balls in it. Combine 1 tbsp. tomato paste, 1 tbsp. oil and a few drops water in a small cup or bowl. Brush the top of the vegi balls before baking them for 20 min in a preheated the oven at 190°C. Serve asap.

 

Light Spaghetti and Zucchini Pasta with Goat Cheese

Light Spaghetti and Zucchini Pasta with Goat CheeseFlavourful and quick pasta recipes always come in handy. To lighten up the calorie content of this pasta dish I have replaced part of the carbs with the zucchini. In the end I was quite surprised about how filling this dish was. Continue reading

In the beginning I wanted to make the zucchini spaghetti using my knife (since I don’t have a spiralizer) but then I found here a simple alternative using a grater that I thought worked well and was also faster. It was my first time making zucchini spaghetti and since I really liked them I now have a new item on my to buy list: the spiralizer. This quick fresh and light recipe turned out to be a tasty dish and surely one of these days this is a recipe I shall serve again… especially since the wedding is less than a month away and I want to keep my food on the light side.

Light Spaghetti and Zucchini Pasta with Goat Cheese Light Spaghetti and Zucchini Pasta with Goat Cheese

Light Spaghetti and Zucchini Pasta with Goat Cheese

 

 

Light Spaghetti and Zucchini Pasta with Goat Cheese

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10-12 min

Cook time: 8-10 min

 

Ingredients

2-3 zucchini

8 sun dried tomato filets

240 g spaghetti

120 g hard goat cheese

80 g crème fraiche

Zest of 1 organic lemon

4 tbsp. dry roasted pine nuts

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Using either a spiralizer or a large holed grater or even a knife, make the zucchini noodles. As I only have a grater I used it by grating the zucchini through their whole length. The other option is to thinly slice the zucchini by their length and them cut each slice into spaghetti like shapes.

Roughly chop the sun dried tomato filets and grate the hard goat cheese.

Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water according to package instructions.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the zucchini and the sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 min stirring once or twice. Add the crème fraiche, hard goat cheese and lemon zest. Lower the fire and cook until the sauce is dense but still a little runny.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce along with the pine nuts. Remove from fire, mix all together, correct taste if needed and serve.