Spinach Quinoa Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

Dear July,

Hi. I'm sooo happy to see you.

I know you're not everyone's favorite month, but I think you're mine.

I'll take all your fresh peaches and corn and tomatoes. All your popsicles and ice cream and smore's by campfire.

I'll even take your blazing temperatures and humidity as long as there's some water nearby and maybe a cold beer.

Just promise me summer will last a liiiiiittle bit long this year.

I'm not ready for this to end.

Sincerely yours,

Spinach Quinoa Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt. 
2 recipe peaches, sliced
4 cups fresh spinach
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
handful of cinnamon sugar pecans (recipe below)
honey balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below) 

Add the quinoa and water to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool. (You can make this a day ahead of time.)

Arrange the spinach on the two plates. Top with cooled quinoa, peaches, pecans, and goat cheese. Drizzle with honey balsamic vinaigrette. 

*Makes 2 servings but can be easily doubled or tripled. 

Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans 

1 cup pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Add pecans, melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar to a ziplock bag. Shake to evenly distribute butter and spices.  Pour nuts into a dry saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant and slightly toasted.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette 

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey.  Continue whisking as you gradually pour in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. 


Healthy Chocolate Avocado Muffins

Can we still be friends if I do things like put avocado in my chocolate muffins?

I know it's kinda weird, and usually I'm against this sort of thing, but when you're faced with the problem of too many ripe avocados, sometimes drastic measures have to be taken.

Any regular readers know that I am obsessed with avocados.  I could probably eat an avocado a day, no problem.  But multiple ripe avocados in one day? That's too much even for me.

Thus began my search for baked goods with avocados.

I  chose a chocolate muffin because, CHOCOLATE, but also because I thought the chocolate would mask the odd green avocado color.

Despite my questionable feelings about non-savory uses of avocados, I love these healthy chocolate avocado muffins.

The texture is moist and immensely satisfying, thanks to the fat in the avocado and coconut oil.

A little bit of instant coffee granules intensifies the chocolate flavor.  (I didn't have any chocolate chips on hand when I made these, but feel free to throw in some to make these extra chocolatey.)

High-fives for chocolate muffins with vitamins and heart-healthy fats!  And like the last chocolate muffins I made, I feel that these can belong in either the breakfast or dessert category.

Healthy Chocolate Avocado Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1/4 tsp salt
1 ripe avocado, peeled and seed removed
2/3 cup honey or maple syrup
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin with liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flowers, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee granules, and salt.

In a food processor, combine the avocado, honey, milk, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract.  Pulse until mixture is smooth.   (If you don't have a food processor, just mash the avocado as much as possible and whisk together with the other liquid ingredients until smooth.)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.  (If desired, you could add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips at this stage too!)

Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the stops are slightly cracked and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from She Bakes Here.


Shrimp & Corn Taco Salad

In two and a half years of food blogging, I have never posted a recipe with seafood. 

I blame this on three things:

(1) Seafood is expensive.
(2) I'm not confident in my cooking or preparation of seafood.
(3) Adam doesn't eat it.

The real reason that seafood hasn't made it onto the blog before today is probably reason #3.  We eat everything that I make for the blog, and I didn't want to spend time preparing an elegant seafood dish that Adam wouldn't eat.

But, now that I'm living in D.C. for the summer, I no longer have an excuse not to make it for myself.

One of my very favorite ways to eat seafood is in tacos. I LOVE fish tacos and shrimp tacos. They're so fresh and delicious. Bring on the extra avocado, please!

The one down side to tacos is that they are messy, and anytime I make my own tacos, I fall into the inevitable trap of piling waaaaay too many ingredients inside.  Basically, by the time I've eaten about three bites, my taco is falling apart.

This shrimp and corn taco salad incorporates everything I love about shrimp tacos, but conveniently in salad form.  Shrimp, romaine, fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, avocado, corn tortillas, and feta cheese are combined and tossed with olive oil and lemon juice or a couple spoonfuls of your favorite salsa.  Fresh, flavorful, and so filling.

And yes, I know we have both fresh corn and corn tortillas in here, but they each provide different flavors and textures and make this salad a full-on-meal. 

For optimal dining experience, pair this shrimp and corn taco salad with a beer and some summer sunshine!

Shrimp & Corn Taco Salad:

about 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
handful of grape tomatoes, halved
1 ear of corn, kernels carefully removed with a sharp knife
1 corn tortilla, cut into small pieces
1 small avocado, cubed
1-2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
5-6 shrimp
juice from one lemon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
garlic powder
chili powder
salt and pepper
salsa (optional)

If using frozen shrimp, thaw for a few minutes in warm water.  Remove tails. 

In a large plate or bowl, assemble the salad by combining the lettuce, tomatoes, corn kernels, corn tortilla pieces, avocado, and feta cheese. 

Place a medium sauce pan over high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is warm, quickly add the shrimp and sprinkle with garlic powder, chili powder and salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then add the lemon juice. Cook for one minute more, or until shrimp are pink. Remove from heat. 

Place shrimp on salad. If desired, pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad as a dressing, and/or add a scoop of salsa. Eat up!

  • The recipe above is for one meal-sized serving, but can be easily doubled or tripled or quadrupled
  • Not a fan of shrimp? Try this with shredded chicken or black beans.


Life & Blog Update: I'm in DC for the Summer!

Hi!  This is another non-recipe post bringing you a little life and blog update. 

I'm in D.C. for the summer! This is me freaking out in front of the Supreme Court. I didn't actually get to go inside, but I've been told that Justice Sotomayor lives in my neighborhood and I am totally determined to meet her and become best friends for life. 

A year ago, I never thought I would be spending my 2L summer in D.C.  I had a PLAN, and that plan involved working at a firm in North Carolina that would provide me a job offer at the end of my 2L summer so that Adam and I could plan our lives accordingly.   After several rejections from firm jobs, I applied for a federal government job in D.C. on a whim.  And I say on a whim, not because I didn't like the job (it's actually kind of my dream combination of law and education) but because I did not want to be away from Adam for the summer or move to a big city. 

But, as you can probably guess, I never got an offer from a law firm in North Carolina. I got an offer from the dream education law internship in D.C.  And, in one of my more terrifying life decisions, I accepted it. 

The planner in me is still mourning the loss of this life PLAN.  It would be really convenient to have the next two years of my life planned out, but I'm trying really hard to remember that there are no guarantees in life--NONE.  My current life mantra is to let go of fear and comparison and to embrace uncertainty and hope. 

As for this blog, I'm not sure what this summer will bring.  My kitchen is minimally equipped and currently under attack by ants. (From what I understand about D.C., I should just be thankful it's not mice?….)

To be honest, this blog is at the bottom of the list of my priorities this summer as I attempt to juggle an internship, journal responsibilities, research for a professor, some intense family stuff, and seeing this scruffy man as much as possible.

As always, thanks so much for your support of the blog. I'll try to be back with a recipe soon!

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