staying hungry : mango tilapia with watermelon feta salad

Let’s cut to the chase here:

You can probably skip the mango tilapia. It’s just parchment-paper baked tilapia with a dollop of mango butter, some parsley and scallions, and a few spices. Good in theory, not terribly exciting in reality.

What is terribly exciting, though, is the salad that accompanies it.

Oh my word. I honestly don’t want to eat anything else for the rest of the summer except for this salad.

I take that back. It’s almost nectarine season. And, hello, we’re right smack dab in the peak of ice cream season.

So, basically, I’ll be eating nectarines and ice cream and watermelon feta salad until the leaves start to change.

Amen.

The journey to this salad began with this pin, which I found in, like, January.

Tabbouleh with Watermelon: Watermelon replaces the traditional tomato in this Middle Eastern salad, giving it bursts of sweetness. Goat cheese, another new add-in, provides creamy contrast, Wholeliving.com #healthylunches

pinned here via here

Having to wait a whole 6 months for it to be seasonably appropriate to make was cruel and unusual punishment.

I made a mental note to make it as soon as the temperature rose above freezing (so, yesterday), and had intended to make it sometime in the next few weeks, but luckily Annie of Annie Eats was kind enough to take this salad to a new level of supremacy. When she posted a recipe last week using quinoa instead of barley I had no choice but to make it immediately if not sooner.

I made it as a side to the fish…but it totally stole the show. So much so that I made a big batch it all by itself for dinner one night this week.

People: make this. Immediately if not sooner.

Quinoa Salad with Watermelon and Feta

slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Serves 4 (hypothetically…)

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

For the dressing:
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. freshly lemon juice
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the salad:
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 cup watermelon, diced
3-4 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
3-4 tbsp. sliced scallions
Lemon zest, to taste

Directions:

Rinse and boil the quinoa (add about 1 and 1/2 cups water to quinoa and simmer for about 15 minutes, letting sit, covered, for 5 additional minutes to soak up remaining water). Whisk together the dressing and chop salad ingredients while the quinoa is boiling. I like to fluff the quinoa with a fork, add the dressing to the quinoa (once cooled slightly), and then add the salad ingredients to the quinoa. It’s best when served chilled.

Rating: 4.5/5. A small deduction for the fact that it’s only a summer dish and I’ll spend 9 months pining for it once September comes. Other than that, this one’s a home run!

good things : summer bucket list

Happy 1st day of summer, friends!!! I haven’t done any bucket-listing for awhile, but summer just begs to be bucket-listed. There are so many fun things to do and plenty of time in which to do them! Here are my top 10:

Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt Pops

pinned here via here

1 :: get ice cream at Lugia’s

2 :: go to Hamlin Beach

3 :: make my own greek frozen yogurt pops

4 :: spend a FULL WEEK at home

5 :: have corn on the cob, watermelon, and chicken on the grill

6 :: go for a long, hot run on the canal and/or Genesee River

7 :: take a day trip, complete with packed picnic lunch (Canandaigua? Pennsylvania???)

8 :: have strawberry lemonade

9 :: make s’mores

10 :: go to an outdoor concert/drive-in movie/summer festival on a warm night

and bonus!

11 :: have dinner outside with friends by the water

via martha stewart

What’s on your bucket list?! If you need any ideas…look no further than Martha Stewart’s definitive guide to all things summer. We’re talking 60 ice cream desserts, no-cook recipes, party ideas galore, and an index that makes it unbelievably easy to lose a few hours in summer planning. Have fun! And happy summer!!!

staying hungry : coconut tilapia with summer quinoa salad

It worked out well that this week’s dinner challenge meal was shelved for a week. It’s PERFECT for Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial start to summer!

It’s one part real recipe, one part creative grocery aisle decision making.

Let’s start with the real recipe, this summer quinoa salad from Iowa Girl Eats!

Summer Quinoa Salad

mildly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled & diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (I omitted these because I forgot them!)
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob (I used 1 cup of canned corn)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the quinoa as per directions. In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients. After quinoa has cooled slightly add to the rest of the salad ingredients. Mix until combined.

Now, for the tipalia!

Coconut Tilapia

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 tilapia filets, about 4oz each
  • 4 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 handfuls cilantro
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Roll out a square of parchment paper. Season the fish with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a handful of cilantro.

Then pick up the sides and roll them down together until they form a seam on top of the fish and tuck the open ends underneath. Like this!

Then bake at 425 for about 20 minutes, or until fish is entirely cooked through.

Rating: 3/5. I liked this one! Very summery. I found out that I preferred the quinoa salad cold and the tilapia hot. But march to the beat of your own drum! Do what you like temperature wise, and enjoy!

good things : DIY chocolate ice cream

I’m sensing a trend here: making chocolate things out of things that are not chocolate.

I mean, isn’t that what life’s all about?

This time around, it’s a bit of a repeat, but I can’t help but share this again and IMPLORE you to try it, asap.
IMG_2391

This is ice cream made out of a frozen banana.

Ice cream…from a BANANA! I’m so tempted to quote Gwen Stefani right now but I’ll refrain.

And I promise – cross my heart and hope to (not) die – it’s every bit as good as any frozen dessert you’ll ever eat! It’s perfect for the upcoming warmer months. Which means it’s also perfect for fitting into things that are not sweatpants and sweatshirts while still eating ice cream.

Really…does life get any better?

Here are the basics:

Combine everything in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth, adding more almond milk if needed.

Top with anything you want! I’ve tried fresh fruit, peanut butter, granola, and pictured above is a mix of large flake coconut, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and triple berry jam.

People, if this blog gives you anything, let it be the gift of frozen banana ice cream. Your life will change for the better.

(Unless, of course, you’re allergic to bananas. In that case, please refer to my close personal friends, Ben & Jerry.)

beka stays hungry : chicken stir fry with goat cheese and raspberries

IMG_2069

Oh. My. Word.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

As soon as I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats I abandoned my former Diner Challenge plans for this week and switched to this recipe. I just couldn’t wait to try it!

My instincts have never served me better.

Chicken Stir Fry with Goat Cheese and Raspberries

mildly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

1 cup chicken broth

dash garlic powder

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 chicken breasts, sliced

salt & pepper

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 scallion, sliced diagonally

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 bag (6oz) baby spinach and arugula

1/4 cup bottled fruity dressing – I used Annie’s Fat Free Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1 oz goat cheese (or feta cheese)

Directions:

1. Combine quinoa, chicken broth and a dash of garlic powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer until quinoa is tender and all the broth has been mostly absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. Turn heat off and let the remainder of the liquid soak into quinoa, about 2 minutes. Fluff with fork.

2. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season chicken slices with salt and pepper. Add chicken, red onion, scallion, and minced garlic to the skillet and stir fry until chicken is cooked all the way through.

3. Add salad dressing and baby greens to the skillet and toss until wilted, about 1 minute. Divide quinoa among plates, then top with the chicken stir fry, raspberries and cheese.

Rating:

5/5. AMAZING!!! This dinner is spring. You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be making it again (and again and again) throughout the spring and summer…and fall and winter, too.

beka stays faithful : thoughts on decisions

Tomorrow I’ll be training someone to take my former job at Anthropologie, so I’ll be working what was a normal day for most of the summer: opening at Anthropologie, closing at Breathe. 7am to 10pm for a total of 15 hours, or 14.5 if you count the half hour it takes to drive from one place of employment to the other. After doing that for the majority of the week I’d also work a wedding on Saturday for my photography job. And then I’d wonder why I couldn’t motivate myself to be the model of productivity on Sundays.

Now, there must have been a point at which I thought working three different jobs (four, if you count the weddings I shot on my own this summer) was a good idea. In fact, I recall being fairly certain that it was a good idea, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. I thought that the challenge would be a positive one, the opportunities would be to my benefit, and the entire experience would result in the kind of personal growth that bestsellers are made of.

But I don’t think it was actually a good idea, because I only have fuzzy memories from the past 2 months of my life, and that’s never good. They consist of pre-sunrise mornings and post-sunset evenings. Lots of driving. Trying my best to talk myself out of being tired. Losing touch with the nouns that make my life happily unique – things like baking and blogging and exercising and football-following and friend-visiting.

Looking back, it seems like the decision to put so many hours on my timecard was not one of my best. It was far from horribly awful or life-changing,  just not one of the decisions I would point to when listing the Top Ten Best Calls I’ve Ever Made. But it wasn’t a choice I made on a whim. It was something that I prayed about, talked to family and friends about, and spent a lot of time considering before moving forward.

Consequently, it’s given me a chance to reflect on how I make decisions. How to tell what my head is saying and what my heart is saying and which to give the microphone to on a given issue. How I pray about decisions and ask for wisdom. How I listen after I ask. Or sometimes forget to listen. And how to adhere to good old fashioned common sense. If something seems like a bad idea, it probably is.

I’m pretty sure that most decisions are not cut and dry (which is probably why I hate them…I need something concrete!). I’m also pretty sure that there are reasons for my brief employment situation that I don’t know about or can’t see from where I’m currently standing. And I’m also pretty sure that wading through the outcomes of all sorts of decisions is an important element in personal and spiritual growth.

ALL of that being said (this was supposed to be a short post! I need to go to bed!), I’d still like to make sure that I’m staying faithful when it comes to decision making: centered in Christ, allowing him to guide me rather than trying to figure out the best plan of attack on my own. And remembering that God is sovereign. He’s not thrown into a tizzy when I chose Plan B instead of Plan A.

In closing, this, from Isaiah 55:

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

and this, from James 1:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

And since I’m still up…I might as well finish watching the Jets/Cowboys game. I mean, it is one of the things that makes my life happily unique. (I’ll let you know if it ends up being a regrettable decision when my alarm goes off at 5:30am tomorrow morning.)