quinoa butternut squash salad

quinoa butternut squash salad

quinoa butternut squash salad

Sometimes I find it hard to make summertime meals that are hearty enough to fill you up, but don’t require much effort, enter quinoa butternut squash salad.

I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again, traditional salads just don’t appeal to me. I’ve looked for ways to incorporate grains instead of lettuce, and pair it with some seasonal veggies. There’s something so amazing about the flavour and colour of butternut squash. 

I must admit, I hate peeling and chopping squash, it can be time consuming, but once you actually put a piece of roasted butternut squash in your mouth the misery that was seems to disappear. Whenever I can, I try to pawn off that task to someone else, usually Kevin. 

Given that we’re in full wedding-planning mode, I’ve been finding it particularly exhausting to do anything when I get home. Between wedding stuff, dog rescue stuff, and work, I hardly have a moment to just sit back and unwind. For that reason, when I can find a meal I can make once and enjoy for days, it’s hard to look away!

While we’re on the topic of weddings, we’ve more or less booked our venue, our photographer, and videographer. There are a few details still waiting to be sorted, but it feels like it’s really coming together! I’m hoping to try on dresses this weekend, and I think at that point it will feel real. 

Any advice you can offer a bride? I’d love to hear your tricks and tips!

But for now, on to the recipe.

quinoa butternut squash salad
Serves 8
Hearty salad that is just as delicious the next day as it was the first!
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 large butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed
  2. 1 cup quinoa
  3. 2 cups chicken broth
  4. 1 medium red onion, diced
  5. 1 cup black beans
  6. 1/4 cup water chestnuts
Instructions
  1. In advance, place the cubed butternut squash on a lined cookie sheet or in a lightly greased casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  2. Roast the squash on 400°F for 30-35 minutes, flipping them over and around at the mid-way mark.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Bring the broth to a boil, and add the quinoa.
  5. Lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes covered. Afterwards, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Let stand for 5 minutes, still covered.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the black beans, onion, and water chestnuts.
  7. Once the butternut squash and quinoa have cooled down a little, mix it into the large bowl.
  8. Top with Salt & Pepper and Enjoy!
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Losing a pet - porch&table

a moment for pause – and paws

I’ve been a little quieter than normal, and part of that is because I’ve recently lost a pet. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make, and one of the most impossible decisions too. Full disclosure, there won’t be a project or a recipe in this post.

Let’s back up a little: In grade 8, I went to the humane society with my mom and we picked out a pretty little black and white cat I named Fiasco. I’ve always had the best pets in general, the ones that would let me do basically anything to them (including dressing them up) without complaining. I’ve been affectionately referred to as Elmira!

Losing a pet - porch&tableFiasco was no different. Some might say she was opinionated, but to me she just liked taking part in conversations. Talk and talk and talk she would. From early in the morning to let you know you could see a corner of the bottom of her food bowl, to mid-afternoon to let you know she was ready for a nap.

We grow so close to our pets, they become a part of the family. Fiasco started behaving strangely really quickly, and with little warning. Her breathing was laboured, and she had lost quite a bit of weight (which we didn’t think too much of, and frankly she could have used to lose a few pounds). Within 6 hours or so, we went from thinking she wasn’t doing well but hopeful, to saying our goodbyes to the cat I had since I was 12. 

You know you’re making the right decision, but as I said in the beginning, it’s an impossible decision to make. You don’t ever want to be face with it, and likewise, you don’t want to see someone you love in pain or discomfort. In the end, we were fairly certain it was advanced cancer that was eating away at her quickly. With my parents by my side, I snuggled her on my lap one last time, and she went to sleep, painlessly and quickly. 

I have a renewed and immense appreciation for those who take care of animals from vets to shelters and rescues. The jobs and decisions they face are emotionally draining, and I applaud (and send virtual hugs) to them. I volunteer with two rescues in Ottawa: Sit With Me Rescue, and the Ottawa Dog Rescue. I volunteer with them because I know how important pets are, and I want to help forever homes for these great pets-to-be. If it were up to me, I would have them all at my house and snuggle them for hours on end.

All this to say, snuggle your pets a little tighter tonight because there are those of us who can’t. 

p.s Sorry for the sadder than normal post, I swear I’ll be back to my old self soon enough!

MLB Roadtrip Yankees Stadium - porch&table

things I learnt in NYC on my Baseball Roadtrip (and an announcement)

MLB Roadtrip Yankees Stadium - porch&table

Let’s take a bit of a break from the food, and focus on some other important things in life like a baseball roadtrip. Kevin and I celebrated our 9 year anniversary at the end of June, and we wanted to do a fun trip for the both of us.

As a pitcher, Kevin loves going to baseball games, and I’ve been following baseball since I can remember. In fact, my parents used to take me out of elementary school just so that I could go to opening day for the Ottawa Lynx (I know, right?!) It was kinda a no-brainer to do this, and sure enough, there’s a website to help you coordinate your baseball roadtrip itinerary, obviously.

Off we went with our first stop in NYC, a first to the city for me. Yankees stadium athmosphere was unreal. We got tickets through Ticket Liquidator for all our games throughout the baseball roadtrip, and didn’t pay over 30$ for any of them. Side note: the bleachers in the outfield don’t have backrests, which we didn’t know when we got the tickets, and it got long after a 3.5 hour game… 

On our first full day there, we took advantage of some of the free things you can do in NYC, and there’s lots of them. We hopped on the Staten Island Ferry which basically takes you on a 20 minute ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island and takes you right in front of the Statue of Liberty. We walked through Times Square, and through all of Central Park, a 4.5km walk (or 2.8 miles). 

Central Park was incredible. The idea that there’s this vast park, with dozens of softball/baseball fields, a giant pond, and even a zoo in the middle of NYC is mind boggling. As you walk in that direction, you wonder how the tall buildings will just disappear and fade into a park. But it does! 

At the end of our walk through the park, we sat on a grassy hill to take a break before making our way to Yankees Stadium, and hung out a bit. I bet Kevin that if I found a four-leaf clover, he would have to marry me. Let me just remind everyone the estimated statistical odds of finding a four-leaf clover is 10,000 to 1, so a fairly safe bet.

Low and behold, about 20 minutes into the search, when I had practically given up was this four-leaf clover. I was so proud of myself! Mid-selfie with my newfound four-leaf clover, Kevin rolled onto one knee (on a hill I might add) and proposed to me in Central Park on June 30th. Though I thought it might happen, I still had tears of joy and it felt surreal. 

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So now, we plan. We’ve got less than a year til our 10 year anniversary, and that’s the day we’ve picked for our wedding! Stay tuned for as I hopefully don’t pull out my hairs, and try to be a bridechilla, rather than a bridezilla.

 

 

tortellini salad with sesame dressing

tortellini salad with sesame dressing

tortellini salad with sesame dressing

 

With summer in full-swing, it’s nice to find some salads that are cool and delicious, just like this tortellini salad with sesame dressing. I’m not a fan of your traditional lettuce or spinach salads, and I try to opt for the not-so-green salad options.

I’m not sure why it is that the traditional salads don’t really appeal to me, I guess I see them as bland and boring, but throw in some quinoa, or cranberries and everything changes. As you probably have gathered, I’m a pretty huge fan of pasta, and so the idea of a pasta salad is a good place to start. 

I discovered sesame oil a couple of years back (i know, a little late) and it changed the way I think about salad dressings. Your dressing doesn’t have to be boring, you can stray away from the olive oil and balsamic and get WILD! Okay, maybe not WILD, but different. Sesame oil is a powerful oil. You don’t need a lot of it to pack a lot of flavour. There’s a very fine balance between too much and not enough, and you eventually get a feel for what’s just right.

You know how some things get better the day after? Well this salad is one of them.

I wish I had more of a story, but I am still kinda in vacation mode and my brain is stumbling over itself still. I’ll post more about the vacation next week! 

But for now, here’s the tortellini salad with sesame dressing recipe

tortellini salad with sesame dressing
Serves 8
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Total Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Dressing
  1. 1/2 cup sesame oil
  2. 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoon hot chili oil
  4. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  5. 2 crushed garlic cloves
  6. Salt & Pepper to taste
  7. 3 cups cheese tortellini
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil, and add the tortellini.
  2. Reduce heat and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and mix well until all combined.
  4. Once the pasta has cooled down a little (about another 10 minutes) mix the sesame dressing with the tortellini and serve.
Notes
  1. Easily doubled, or halved.
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