Spicy Quinoa Salad

Promising myself two legitimate dinners in the kitchen this week, I went for a Spicy Quinoa Salad and paired it with just some chicken breast we had hanging out in the freezer. I’m trying to use as much of any perishable items I can, which is why I decided to pair this with just some plain ole chicken.

I actually had a hard time spotting Quinoa at the grocery store on Sunday. I found Bob’s Red Mill right away in the organic section, but it was $8! I know, I know, that’s not much. But for a grain I’d never had before and wasn’t sure what else I’d be using it with, I just couldn’t plunk that down. We also try to stay under $75 a week, and I knew we wouldn’t if I grabbed it. I headed over to the rice and pasta aisle, and spent a solid 5 minutes staring at all the different rice trying to find it. Turns out I had my back to where it was, and after almost giving up, I found a nice box for $3.50! Sure, it wasn’t whole wheat or organic, but sometimes you just have to cut corners.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I struggle with cutting onions. Over the summer I had the great idea of using my swimming goggles to help combat the tears, and it works. I thought it was about time I shared a little treat with my readers. So here’s a picture of me from my Macbook in the kitchen (I bring it with me to read off recipes), post run and gleefully holding a red onion and a knife while sporting my goggles. Laugh away!

The recipe was super easy, and quick, which in these final packing days has been much appreciated. Trying to finish up packing and cleaning, doing homework, and trying to finally get back to running has jam-packed my week. I was able to tackle 2 miles on Monday night, and another 3 Tuesday. It’s definitely on it’s way to recovery, and feels a lot better than it did when I tried to start running last time. I’m really hoping I can be smart about this one. At this point, I’m not concerned about PRing the Disney Half Marathon, rather I just want to be able to finish the 13.1 pain-free. I’ll set my sights on a PR for the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon in April.

This was my last “real” dinner in this kitchen. In retrospect, I’ve really come into my own here. I started off making burritos and stir-fry, and really blossomed to making intricate desserts, scrumptious dinners, and just having a lot of fun. I’ve also given my fiancé plenty of opportunity to work on his camera skills (thanks babe)! Aside from making my work BFF/bridesmaid a sweet birthday treat on Thursday night which I’ll be sure to post about, next week’s food blogs will be from a new kitchen. How exciting!

I didn’t have any good pictures for the recipe, so head over to Serious Eats for a picture, which is where I got this glorious recipe!

Spicy Quinoa Salad
– Serves 4-6 –

1 cup quinoa
Kosher salt
2 cups diced cucumber (about 2 medium)
2 cups finely diced tomatoes (about 2 medium)
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

1. In a large bowl, cover the quinoa with cold water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain in a strainer and rinse until the water runs clear, then transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste (1 teaspoon or so), reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes until the grain becomes slightly translucent. Drain off excess water, cover the pot with a dish towel, replace the lid, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, combine the cucumber, tomato, cilantro, and olive oil in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, combine the onion, lime juice, and vinegar. Allow to sit while the quinoa finishes cooking.
3. Combine the vegetables and toss to coat, then stir in the quinoa. Season to taste with salt, oil, and/or more lime juic, and serve immediately with sliced avocado.

Feel the burn

I admittedly have pretty sensitive skin, and as I’ve gotten older, my eyes have joined in the sensitive club as well. I like to thank the countless hours that both my skin and eyes spent submerged in heavily chlorinated water as contributing factors, but genetics are playing the lead role (thanks mom!). So “feeling the burn” when it comes to my eyes or skin is definitely not welcomed, where as a hard arm or leg burning workout would be.

Me swimming a few weeks ago

My knack for getting my eyes to burn seems to follow me in my two recent passions – food and running. Everyone experiences some eye irritation when they cut onions, right? Well, for whatever reason mine has gotten progressively worse, and I use onion in almost everything I make. A few weeks ago while making my Summery Tomato Salad and Black Bean & Corn Salads for our BBQ, I couldn’t take the burn from both the yellow and red onions. So, in order to continue with the recipe, I had what I like to think of as a genius idea. I remembered seeing a post on Foodie Wannabe’s blog about onion goggles, so I made my own.

By make my own, I really mean I stopped chopping, ran to my closet, and whipped out a pair of swimming goggles (thanks Speedo!). As I ran back to the kitchen and started chopping with my blue tinted goggles on, my fiancé started hysterically laughing. I was far from embarrassed, since I could finally keep my eyes open and continue chopping. I’ve since employed this new tactic every time I have to chop more than just a few slices of onion, since trying to cut something with your eyes closed can’t end well.

So to tackle my other eye pain problem, I’ve turned to a cooler version of a sweatband. For whatever reason, when I run the sweat pours into my eyes and burns big time. Since it’s been so incredibly hot this entire summer, I’ve worn tank tops instead of t-shirts on most of my runs, leaving little room for me to wipe my eyes. While racking my brain after a particularly painful run last Sunday afternoon, I noticed a fellow runner/foodie’s tweet about Bondi bands, which are essentially headbands, that seemingly wick away sweat. I immediately placed an order with The Wannabe Athlete, because they’re for an awesome cause. As someone who has lost loved ones to cancer, but also watched others fight and win their battle, I am always more than happy to help any way I can. So, by purchasing a Bondi Band that will hopefully shield my eyes at least a little from sweat, I’ve helped a wonderful woman pay for some of her radiation treatments. I couldn’t have found a better way to keep the sweat out of my eyes!

The note made me smile!

So, my  fellow food and running fiends (combined or separate), do you experience eye burning when chopping onions, or when running? If so, how do you get around it, or avoid it all together?