Cherry Slices

I first tasted this delicious pastry at a Delta Kappa Gamma (women teacher's organization) brunch meeting. Elinor Haas had prepared it and willingly shared the recipe.
One of those recipes that was easy enough for high school Foods students to prepare but fancy enough to serve for an elaborate brunch. It makes a nice coffee or snack cake and is also great for pot lucks.

Cherry Slices
1 cup butter or margarine
1¾ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 11”x17” cookie sheet with sides.
2.  Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla; beat at medium speed, about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

3.  Gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat well. 
4.  Spread dough in prepared pan, saving 1½ cups of batter for top. (An offset spatula is great for this task.)
5.  Spread cherry pie filling over dough. 
6.  Drop rest of dough by spoonfuls and spread out (it will not, and need not, cover the entire surface of the cherry pie filling). 

7.  Bake 40 minutes. 
8.  Mix powdered sugar with enough milk to make a thin glaze. 
9.  Drizzle over warm coffee cake.

10.  When cool, cut into squares.

Recipe without photos . . .
Cherry Slices
1 cup butter or margarine
1¾ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling 
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray a 11”x17” cookie sheet with sides.
2.  Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla; beat at medium speed, about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.  
3.  Gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat well. 
4.  Spread dough in prepared pan, saving 1½ cups of batter for top. (An offset spatula is great for this task.) 
5.  Spread cherry pie filling over dough.
6.  Drop rest of dough by spoonfuls and spread out (it will not, and need not, cover the entire surface of the cherry pie filling).  
7.  Bake 40 minutes.  
8.  Mix powedered sugar with enough milk to make a thin glaze. 
9.  Drizzle over warm coffee cake.
10.  When cool, cut into squares.

Donut Puffs

     Years ago, when Barry had just started teaching art at Chapman High School, we were invited to a post football party at a fellow teacher’s apartment. She served these muffins, warm from the oven, and they were delicious. I’ve been making them ever since.
     She called them Donut Puffs but I’ve also found similar recipes that were titled Cinnamon Puffs or French Puffs – any or all of those names could be used for these easy-to-make treats that taste kind of like a donut. After the nutmeg-infused muffins come out of the oven, they are dipped in melted butter and then rolled in  a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
      Serve them warm (they can be reheated in the microwave) or at room temperature.

Donut Puffs  Yield:  about 1 dozen or 2 dozen mini muffins
¼ cup shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup milk
½ cup chopped nuts-,optional
¼  cup butter, melted

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon  

1.     Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or spray muffin tins.
2.     Cream shortening and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add egg to creamed mixture.
3.     In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.
4.     Add flour mixture and milk alternately to the creamed mixture (start and end with the flour – see note below). Fold in nuts if desired.
5.     Fill greased muffin tins 1/2 full. (You should end up with exactly 1 dozen regular muffins or 2 dozen mini but sometimes muffin tin sizes vary and you might end up with less or more. If you happen to end up with less or more and have some unused muffin tins, click on Unused Muffin Tips for a remedy.
6.     Bake for 15 to 20 minutes for regular size muffins; about 10 to 12 for mini muffins.
7.     When cool, dip cakes in melted butter and roll in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

Alternating Wet & Dry IngredientsWhen you add the dry first, the fat in the creamed mixture will start to coat the flour particles and you will avoid the development of gluten (which if overworked will make quick breads, pie crusts, etc. tough). You end with dry to take up any available moisture in the batter.

Iced Carrot Cookies . . . and unusual connections

Q. What does a furniture store, a cooking blog and Kirstie Alley all have in common?
A. Aunt Joan's Carrot Cookies.

     A few years ago we were in Traditions Furniture Store in Wichita; they happened to be hosting an afternoon reception that afternoon. The cookie platters were enticing and we were both tempted to sample a few. Although they were all good, we especially liked the frosted carrot cookies. During a conversation with Dayna Rosencutter (a longtime employee at the store), we discovered they were made by Joan Smith and since she happened to be on the premises, we even met her; later she shared her recipe.
     In a recent note from Joan, regarding this recipe, this is what she said, “I found it in ‘The Wichita Jr. League’ cookbook in the early 70s. Robin Van Huss (my niece and Traditions store owner) is a close friend of Kirstie Alley (Wichita Celebrity) [and of recent Dancing with the Stars fame] and I became a friend of Kirstie thru Robin.  One day, Kirstie mentioned to me the wonderful cookies her late mother used to bake - had cooked carrots and orange icing. I located the recipe a baked them for her.  She was so thrilled. Every time she comes to Wichita, I bake the 'Carrot Cookies'."

Carrot Cookies with Orange Icing
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cooked, mashed carrots (cold)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.     Preheat oven to 350°.
2.     Cream shortening with sugar, add egg and other ingredients in order given above.
3.     Drop by teaspoonful onto greased baking sheet.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes.

3 tablespoons softened butter
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 to 6 tablespoons orange juice 
Grated orange peel

1.     Mix together butter, powdered sugar, orange juice and grated peel to icing consistency. 
2.     Put on cookies while still warm.

Cooking for 2 -- Chicken West

     This recipe is an example of why I’ve become a fan of 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Network. I watched Claire Robinson make what she called Turkey Robinson a couple of days ago; she raved about it and so I decided to try it . . . at least my version of it. Think Barry was a little skeptical as he prepared the rice to accompany the main dish, but . . . one bite and he was sold!
She also suggested, “You’ll like this so much that you may want to attach your name to the recipe instead of mine.” I did.

Chicken West for 2

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chicken breast, ground (I ground it using the grinding attachment on our Kitchen Aid mixer)
1 clove of garlic, minced
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup+ chicken stock
3 liberal handfuls of spinach leaves
½ of a 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
Roasted red pepper – enough to add some color
Brown rice for serving (Barry sautéed a few finely chopped onions, celery and carrots in olive oil before adding the rice; the mixture was then cooked according to package directions but he used a combination of water and chicken stock for the cooking medium)

1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over moderately-high heat until hot but not smoking.
2.  Add the ground chicken and garlic -- using a wooden spoon, break up the clumps and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3.  Add the stock and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring up to a boil, and then let simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
4.  Stir in the spinach, cannellini beans and roasted red pepper; heat through.
5.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
6.  Serve over brown rice.

Nutritional Analysis  per serving (437g): Calories 797, Fat 22.5g (Saturated Fat 3.6g, Cholesterol 73mg), Sodium 844mg, Carbohydrate 96.5g (Fiber 25.9g, Sugars 4.4g) Protein 53.5g, Vit A 80%, Calcium 20%, Vit C 86%, Iron 57%.

Here’s Clarie’s version . . . as it appeared on Food Network
Turkey Robinson   Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 min / Cook Time: 15 min
2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 (5-ounce) bag triple washed spinach
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
Brown rice or pasta, for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet over moderately-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the ground turkey and, using a wooden spoon, break up the clumps and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring up to a boil, and then let simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cannellini beans and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over brown rice or your favorite pasta.
 BYOC: Try adding some red pepper flakes to the turkey for a little spice and finely grate some Parmesan cheese to serve.

Banana Bread . . . and Recipe Modification

     After multiple flops with Banana Bread, I vowed never to make it again! Then Virginia Hoffman shared her recipe when I interviewed her for my monthly newspaper column (9/23/2008 Reflector-Chronicle). Her recipe sounded promising and she assured me that it was pretty much fail-proof. Well, I only had 2 bananas (they were large) but I gave it a try and . . . it was a success (no oozing batter in the center + it was moist and cuts nicely). Then, in an attempt to get my cholesterol under control (and I did), I made some modifications. . . and they worked, too! On the recipe that follows, I’ve included both Virginia’s version and my adjusted take on her recipe.

Banana Bread     Makes one 8” x 4” loaf
2 ripe (large-size) bananas (Virginia uses 3 medium or 4 if small)
¾ cup granulated sugar (Virginia uses 1 cup)
1 egg
1 ½  cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/3 oat flour & then enough flour to = 1 ½ c)
¼ cup canola oil (Virginia uses melted margarine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Mash bananas in a mixing bowl and then add remaining ingredients and mix. 
3. Pour into a greased 8” x 4” loaf pan. 
4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Nutritional Analysis  (based on loaf yielding 10 slices – 1 slice or 77 g): Calories 240, Fat 9.9g (Saturated Fat .8g, Cholesterol 19mg), Sodium 249mg, Carbohydrate 35.2g (Fiber 1/8g, Sugars 18.5g) Protein 4.2g, Vit A 1%, Calcium 1%, Vit C 4%, Iron 7%.

For more information about Recipe Modification, check out the helpful chart from Ohio State University Extension -- click on  Healthy Recipe Modification Tip Sheet for a direct link (or for a downloadable PDF file, goggling these key words - Healthy Recipe Modification Tip Sheet)
Here are a few other helpful links . . .

Mom's Signature Cobbler - "Oh So Good!"

     At least once during wheat harvest, my mom would make her signature cobbler to take to the field; she usually used fresh peaches and it was “Oh So Good”.
     After posting Mom’s Harvest Stew recipe on Facebook yesterday, Zona Jean Newell Morgan (a distant cousin) also reminded me that the farmwives of that era carted real silverware and dishes to the field along with all of the hot food (some even took along tables and chairs).
     That in turn reminded me that once we had served all the harvest crew (they ate in shifts so it took awhile) and then cleaned up, it was just about time to prepare “lunch”. Sandwiches, homemade cookies and fruit had to be assembled, packed up and delivered to the field by late afternoon. When the guys finally shut down for the day, they were often ready for another light meal.  It was a cooking marathon for the women and a grueling work session for the men.

    My grandmother gave the cobbler recipe to my mother and it became an everyday dessert in the Newell family. It is one my mother still continues to make.

Cobbler     Make one 8"x 8” pan
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick margarine or butter
2 eggs
Fruit - fresh fruit cut to cover bottom half of pan & sweetened to taste w/ sugar  (or use sweetened canned fruit, drained, or canned pie filling) – peaches & cherries are our family favorites

1.  Preheat oven to 375°. Grease an 8"x 8” baking pan.
2.  In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, margarine and eggs. 
3.  Arrange fruit in  prepared pan and spread with above mixture. 
4.  Bake around 45 minutes until lightly brown. 
5.  Serve warm or cold; great with ice cream or whipped cream.

Harvest Beef Stew

     Summers in Stafford County always meant taking meals to the field during wheat harvesting. Despite the hot weather, my dad wanted a large, hot “dinner” at noon. Therefore, mornings were spent cooking in the kitchen. This easy baked stew was one of his favorite dishes. Mom usually made coleslaw and her signature cobbler to go with it. And there were always wide-mouth quart canning jars filled with iced tea – they were “icy” and thirst quenching!
     Fried chicken and meatballs were other favorites. And a popular side -- garden green beans with new potatoes. Mom cooked them together with bacon and onions – long and slow until the flavors melded. Another favorite was sliced cucumbers and onions, pickled in a vinegar and water solution. And, her wilted lettuce salads were tart, tangy and absolutely delicious.
     My stew was made in the slow cooker and the smells wafting through the air took me right back to the kitchen in the rural home where I grew up. I put our stew in the slow cooker around noon on the auto setting (alternates between low and high) and it was ready by “suppertime”.

Cooking for Two – the beauty of this recipe is that you can vary the amounts. Chuck roast was on sale — bought a smaller one; cut it in half and chunked one portion for this recipe. Wrapped the other and put it in the freezer for a slow cooker roast beef dinner later.

Harvest Stew
Stew meat, cubed
Salt & pepper to taste.
Celery, sliced
Carrots, peeled and sliced into about ½ or ¾”   rounds
Potatoes, peeled and cubed or sliced
1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
Onions, sliced (I like relatively thick slices)
(I also added some fresh herbs – oregano, rosemary and thyme)

1.  Grease or spray a casserole — select a size to suit the size of your family.
2.  Place a layer of cubed beef in bottom, sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
3.  Add a layer of chopped celery; a layer of sliced carrots; a layer of cubed or sliced potatoes. 
4.  Mix a can of tomato soup with a half can of water and pour over the vegetables. 
5.  Add a final layer of sliced onions. 
6.  Bake at 300° for 3 hours or more in the oven. Or, bake in the slow cooker (see my notes above).
Harvest Stew w/ coleslaw and foccacia bread.

Mocha Meringue Bark

     Claire Robinson is definitely my new favorite Food Network host. She is vivacious, down-to-earth and fun; her food is inventive and uses five ingredients or less!
     Besides that the timing of her show coincides perfectly with my daily exercise workout (makes sense to me – burn off some calories while figuring out how to replace them).
     Just happened to have some leftover egg whites so this seemed like an easy use for them. The results were YUMMY! I will definitely make this again.
Mocha Meringue Bark   Serves: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time:15 min / Cook Time:1 hour + 1 hour cooling time
Level: Easy
Recipe from Claire Robinson @ Food Network
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, divided
1 teaspoon granulated sugar + 1/4 cup
4 egg whites
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 250°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. Put ¼  cup blanched almonds and 1 teaspoon sugar into a food processor and pulse until it resembles cornmeal; reserve. Finely chop the remaining almonds.
3. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until very soft peaks have formed. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ¼ cup sugar and espresso powder. With the mixer running on low, slowly add in the sugar and the espresso powder, 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping just to the stiff peak stage, (do not overbeat). Gently fold in the reserved almond flour.
4. With a large offset spatula, spread the meringue batter on the lined baking sheet in an even layer, about ½” thick. Sprinkle the finely chopped almonds and chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the meringue and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, leaving the meringue in the oven to dry out further and cool for an additional 1 hour.
5. To serve, break the meringue into pieces. Leftover meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature in a dry cool place for up to 3 days.
Note: If meringue gets chewy, put it back into a 200° oven for about 30 minutes, turn off the oven and let dry inside the oven while it cools.

For more information on egg whites, click on . . . Egg White Tips

Walnut Lover's Brownies - "Delicious"

     When I first discovered this recipe (“Simple Spring Desserts,” Gold Medal spring 2002 booklet) I couldn’t hardly wait to give it a try. The results were incredible – fudgy brownies with a walnut-caramel topping. They are extremely rich and EXTREMELY good!

Walnut Lover’s Brownies    Yield:  32 brownies
Walnut Topping (below)
3/4 cup butter (Original recipe says you can use margarine but why would you want to?)
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (I substituted 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder + 1/4 cup canola oil)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour

1.     Heat oven to 350°. Grease bottom and sides of 13 x 9 x 2” baking pan, with shortening. 
2.     Make Walnut Topping; set aside.
3.     Melt butter and chocolate in 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly; cool slightly. Stir in sugar, vanilla and eggs. Stir in flour.  Spread in pan  Spoon topping evenly over batter.
4.     Bake 45 minutes (be careful not to overbake). 
5.     Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
6.     For 32 brownies, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows.

Walnut Topping
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (Original recipe says you can use margarine but why would you want to?)
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups chopped walnuts (I have used 3 cups and it’s still a lot of walnuts!)

1.     Heat brown sugar and butter in 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted; cool slightly. 
2.     Stir in eggs, flour and vanilla. Stir in walnuts.

Crisp Gluten-free Flatbread - Socca

     Our friend, Greg Stuart, is always sending links to food articles that appear in New York or Los Angeles newspapers. This affords us the opportunity to keep up with what’s happening on the big city food scene and I’ve found some great recipes as I peruse those links. I was fascinated when I ran across the recipe for Socca – a crisp flatbread make from gluten-free chickpea flour. The problem – chickpea flour was not easy to find! Finally found a garbanzo & fava flour at Glen’s Bulk, southwest of Hutchinson, Ks. (phone 620-662-2875) . The blend was made by Bob’s Red Mill® so if your grocery store carries this line of products, you might see if they would order this particular blend if you are interested in trying the recipe.
      Garbanzo beans and chick peas are one of the same; fava refers to another type of beans so I figured the garbanzo-fava flour would work, and it did. Served it with a chef salad for lunch and it was yummy!
     I followed the recipe as provided in Mark Bittman’s article, “Sweet Treat From Nice” (with a few notations added). I am also including Mark’s article below the recipe — interesting reading!

     Check out other via our Healthy Alternatives tab (at the top of the page).

Socca (Farinata) Yield: 4 to 6 appetizer servings.
Time: about 5 to 10 minutes assembly / 20 minutes in oven
1 cup chickpea flour 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon, at least, ground black pepper 
(I added a heaping teaspoon and thought it was just right; it was a little spicy for Barry’s palate)
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil 

½ large onion, thinly sliced, optional 
(the onions and rosemary both added a great flavor boost)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, optional

1.     Heat oven to 450°. Put a well-seasoned or nonstick 12” pizza pan or cast-iron skillet in oven.
2.     Sift chickpea flour into a bowl; add salt and pepper; then slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. Batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.
3.     If using onion and rosemary, stir them into batter. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into heated pan, and swirl to cover pan evenly. Pour in batter (make sure it is evenly distributed  - otherwise the edges will be too crisp and the middle too thick – I used an off-set metal spatula to distribute the batter), and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until “pancake” is firm and edges set. Heat broiler, and brush top of socca with 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil if it looks dry.
4.     Set socca a few inches away from broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to brown it spottily. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot, or at least warm.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (based on 4 servings of one 64g portion) : Calories 241, Fat 15.9g (Saturated Fat 2.1g, Cholesterol 0mg), Sodium 588mg, Carbohydrate 150.2g (Fiber 6.7g, Sugars 0.6) Protein 6.3, Vit A 1%, Calcium 2%, Vit C 3%, Iron 2%.

“Street Treat From Nice”  by MARK BITTMAN
     THERE are few better ways to greet guests than with socca, the chickpea "pizza" from Nice. It's dead easy, impressive, new to even many sophisticated eaters and conveys a sense of your own competence like nothing else.Known as farinata across the border in    
     Liguria, this is essentially a large pancake made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil and a lot of black pepper. Bakers in Genoa often add onion and rosemary.
     But its main attractions are these: The batter is quicker to put together than pancake batter; it can rest for an hour or even half a day, or not; it is baked in a normal oven, finished in a broiler and done in about 20 minutes; it's served hot or warm, to be eaten with the fingers. And it's irresistible.
     And while chickpea flour is sold in few supermarkets, it is readily found at Indian, Middle Eastern and natural foods markets.
     If there is a drawback it will come when you serve socca to a well-traveled person who will tell you that to make it properly you need a wood-burning oven and a copper pan. Such a person may also say that the combination of Mediterranean chickpea flour, water and olive oil is unique, so that socca cannot possibly be duplicated anywhere else; that even the Ligurian version is inferior (or, if the guest is an Italophile, that the Provençal version is no good); and so on.
     Forget it. I've eaten and made both socca and farinata in Nice and in Genoa, and I've made it at home a hundred times. It is foolproof and 90 percent as good made in your oven as when whisked from the wood-burning ovens of Nice to the street stands in the market. It's so simple and its flavors are so pure that unless you buy rancid chickpea flour you will get it right the first try.
     Now the details. Sift the chickpea flour into your bowl, so it doesn't lump, and use a whisk to combine it with water. Do not skimp on black pepper or olive oil; the pepper should really hit you when you take a bite. Preheat your skillet or pan in the oven. When the socca is done, put the pan on the table, cut it into random shapes, hand out napkins and have at it. If more than six people are present, get started making another. --

EXPERIMENTING WITH QUINOA – Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad

    Quinoa (KEEN-wa) has been referred to as . . . the whole grain super-food! It’s become quite popular and most grocery stores have added it to their shelves – check under the specialty grains or natural foods sections.
     I’ve been on the search for tasty recipes that incorporate this ancient grain. This one actually is a combination of several – using ingredients I had on hand and adding others that I thought would go well with those I started with. We happened to have lemon-infused balsamic vinegar (it is light in color) and olive oil on hand – they were a nice addition but regular balsamic and olive oil can be used (if you are using regular balsamic, it will darken the salad slightly). Since I liked the lemon flavor imposed by these specialty products, I would recommend adding a squeeze of fresh lemon (and maybe some grated rind) if using them in their usual form.
     And finally, for just two of us I cut the salad in half. It was good but I don’t want to eat it day after day!
     Check out other Healthy Alternatives using our tab at the top of the page.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad    6 side dish servings
1 cup quinoa 
2 cups water
1⁄2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1⁄2 cup chopped toasted* walnuts
1⁄4 cup chopped chives or sliced green onion
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used lemon balsamic vinegar)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (I used lemon-infused olive oil)
Coarsely ground black pepper and Kosher salt

1. Rinse the quinoa in several changes of water. Combine the 2 cups water and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and continue cooking until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, dried cranberries, walnuts, and chives or green onion until well mixed.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar and olive oil until well blended. Pour over the quinoa mixture. Toss until well blended.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (235g): Calories 142, Fat 6.1g (Saturated fat 0.8g, Cholesterol 0 mg), Sodium 2 mg, Carbohydrate 18.1g, Fiber 2.2, Protein 3.8g, Calcium 1%, Vit C 2%, Iron 7%.

Other Ideas:  Add cooked chicken to make this a main dish salad. Think some crushed or chunked pineapple also might be a nice addition.

About Quinoa (KEEN-wa)
     Quinoa has delightful and unique characteristics that give it an appearance and texture all its own. The taste is a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor.
     It is an easy-to-prepare and an excellent alternative to white rice or couscous; it can also serve as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, or berries.
     The quinoa seed is high in protein, calcium, and iron, and it is a relatively good source of vitamin E and several B vitamins. It contains a nearly perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, making quinoa a complete protein food. Quinoa is 12% to 18% protein. Four ounces per day, or approximately 1/2 cup, is sufficient to meet a child’s daily protein needs.
     Before cooking, the seeds must be rinsed to remove the bitter resin-like coating, which is the phytochemical saponin. Although quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, it is advisable to place the seed in a strainer and rinse again at home before use to remove any remaining residue.

To Toast Nuts -- Click on . . . Toasting Nuts
For this salad, I toasted the nuts in our  Breville Smart Oven. It looks like a counter top toaster but bakes like real oven with convection features. Nice for something like toasting nuts as you don't have to heat up the entire oven to do a small job. We bake pizza, pies, chicken . . . . etc., etc. in the oven and love the results!