Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

quinoa and sweet potatoes

It’s snowing here and I’m ready for summer. Not gonna happen soon enough for me! Snow just makes you tired! Here’s proof…my fiance got off work, ate dinner and immediately fell asleep. This does-not-happen-ever when the weather is warm. Snow is the devil! 🙂

Travis and Randolph

At least quinoa can be amazing when everything else is dreary. Really, quinoa can be better than dessert. Well…ok…now you have lost faith and don’t believe me. Anyone there???

Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (or water, veg stock etc)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1-2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Add water or chicken broth, quinoa and diced sweet potato to a small pot and bring to boil. Lower temp and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, checking periodically, until all water/broth is absorbed and quinoa has cooked.
  • Add cooked quinoa to a serving bowl and stir to fluff. Add walnuts and dressing and stir to combine. Top with goat cheese and a fresh ground pepper.

What I made for Christmas Eve Dinner

I had a huge dinner at my house on Christmas Eve. These are the dishes I made:

My Christmas tree

Clementine Cosmos from 5-Ingredient Fix. The clementine simple syrup was delish and was a beautiful orange color. We used organic cranberry juice and bottled lime juice. They were a hit with the ladies but the guys didn’t want anything to do with a pink colored cocktail.

Trader Joe’s Pear Cinnamon Cider. I went shopping on Christmas Eve-Eve at the very busy Trader Joe’s in Short Pump and they had this cider served warm as a sample in the back of the store. I served it warmed in a crock pot over low heat. Very good!

Good Eats Roast Turkey. I got wrapped up in conversation with my sister Zandria and my friend Lois and forgot all about brining the turkey the night before! How could I! I ended up only getting to brine it for 2-3 hours the next morning. I took a huge risk and didn’t rinse the brine off but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It was tender and delicious… I will make this again.

My kitty under the tree

I made a variation of Roasted Beet Salad, except that I used clementines instead of navel oranges and goat cheese instead of pecorino romano. I also served it over a bed of arugula.

Mascarpone Chive Mashed Potatoes. Very creamy and a slightly different flavor from the normal mashed potatoes.

My mom brought several different desserts including a fruit cake and chocolate pie, collard greens, venison bbq and a crab dip. My sister Angela brought a 5 cheese mac-n-cheese and some oreo cookie balls and rolo cookies. My dad brought some marinated carrots that I have to get the recipe for! I have been snacking on the leftovers for 2 days now.

Below are my Dad, 7 week old nephew and my brother:

My dad, my nephew and brother

This is my sister Angela’s husband and their son, Ryder:

Troy and Ryder

Me getting ready to chop hazelnuts for the salad:

Elissa cooking

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Cherry Peppers with Goat Cheese

We visited the South of the James farmers market this morning and as always we met some cool people and got some great things. Turnips, local honey, fresh local oysters, local sausage and lamb loin chops, homemade dog treats and an assortment of peppers (small red sweet peppers, habaneros, and thai chilis) from a place called Village Garden in Mechanicsville.

When I asked Barbara from Village Garden for some recipe ideas for the small, red cherry peppers and she said to cut the tops out, remove the seeds and roast them under the broiler for a few minutes to heat them up and soften them slightly. After that you stuff them with goat cheese. YUM!!

For dinner tonight I decided to make appetizers. The peppers, some shrimp cooked with garlic and lemon and some of the raw oysters we got today. The seafood was amazing but the peppers were my fav. I liked them so much I might try to get some more and have them as an appetizer for Thanksgiving 🙂

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This. Is. Excellent. Chicken. Well, don’t make fun of me…it’s true! I would usually never make something like this. It’s been a handful of years since I have even attempted a stuffed chicken breast recipe. But the rain outside and the empty propane tank meant that I couldn’t grill without 1) a run to the store for a refill propane tank and 2) and boyfriend willing to get wet while turning chicken. It was just by the luck of those two hurdles on my Friday evening that I ran across this recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I exaggerate not when I tell you that it is DELICIOUS!!

The recipe called for a couple tablespoons of chopped basil. The only basil I have that is ready for a small harvest is my purple basil so I picked a few leaves to try in this dish. Isn’t it dark and beautiful??!!

Halfway through cooking I was almost jumping up and down in excitement that the goat cheese-y goodness wasn’t leaking out!

I am not a food photographer (yet) but here is the finished, lovely stuffed chicken and some braised swiss chard that I made to go along with it.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

(Adapted from Cooking Light)


  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallot, garlic and sugar. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until soft.
  • In a bowl combine goat cheese, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes,   basil, the cooked shallot and garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Stir.
  • Prepare the chicken breasts by slicing the thick part of the breasts into a pocket. (the breasts I used were on the small side) Fill with a couple tablespoons of cheese mixture. Close with a toothpick or 2 per breast.
  • Using the same pan the shallot and garlic was cooked in, add another tablespoon of olive oil and place the stuffed chicken breasts in. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on 5 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and cook (flipping two more times and basting with pan juices) for another 15 minutes until done. Enjoy!

Spinach, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Frittatas are one of the best things to serve a crowd for breakfast or brunch. In my house, if I am ever cooking in the morning, it’s always on the weekends and it’s brunch…because I don’t get up early enough for “breakfast”. This past weekend when my sister Zandria was visiting we invited our friends Dana and Dale over for brunch on Sunday. With my family, my sister and her boyfriend and the Holt’s we had 8 people to feed. Zandria and I decided on making a frittata and having pancakes and Dana was going to be bringing fruit skewers (which is an idea she got from Pinterest). Zandria and I searched and searched for frittata recipes and didn’t find anything we liked so we invented our own recipe.

Here I am beginning to crack the first few of 15 eggs!

My sister, Zandria, chopping sun dried tomatoes:

Yummy chopped button mushrooms sauteing in butter and olive oil:

Me, adding half and half to the eggs.

So sorry to report that due to extreme hunger and the excitement of the crowd there are no photos of the finished product! I still wanted to write and post about this recipe anyway because it turned out so good it just HAD to be documented!

Spinach, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata


  • 15 organic, cage-free eggs
  • 11 ounces organic spinach
  • 1 package button mushrooms, sliced and chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup half-n-half
  • 3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled


  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 12 inch, non-stick, oven proof skillet and add butter and olive oil. Once butter is melted add shallot and mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are soft and shallot is translucent. Add spinach and 1/3 cup water then put a top on the skillet allowing the spinach to cook down completely. Once the spinach is cooked, tip the skillet and spoon out most of the juices in the bottom of the pan.
  • In a mixing bowl add eggs and half-n-half along with some salt and pepper to taste and wisk together. Add egg mixture to the pan with the veggies. Using a spatula or spoon move the spinach and mushrooms around a bit to make sure they are incorporated evenly. Sprinkle the top with the sun dried tomatoes and then the crumbled goat cheese. Cook about 8-10 minutes on medium heat until the sides just begin to set and put the skillet in the oven. Cook for another 8-10 minutes until mixture is set (when you press the middle it should bounce back and no longer be runny at all.
  • Cut the frittata into 8 servings just like you were cutting pizza wedges (first into halves, then fourths and so on). Serve hot.