Autumn Quinoa Salad

Last week I went to a “coupon class” with a good friend of mine. Neither of us really knew what we were walking into other than it was free and it would last about an hour. We had no idea that we’d be leaving the class with a full week’s worth of stories… My assumptions were fairly simple: there’d be a super organized person who’d get to the classroom well before everyone else to greet people as they walked through the door, perhaps there’d be some helpful handouts and some great tips passed around, and that we’d not end the night believing that mega-coupon-clippers are crazy. I regret to inform you that all of my assumptions were wrong.

Before I go any further, I do want to apologize if YOU are a mega-coupon-clipper. I’m sure that YOU’RE not crazy. I mean that.

So, here is what happened:

  • The coupon “teacher” (and I’m using that term loosely…) was around 10 minutes late to class and forgot to bring the laptop she had planned to use for her presentation
  • We were told that people who go to the grocery store with an actual list of things they need for the week are foolish
  • One tip we were given: ONLY buy things that are both on sale and that you have a coupon for
  • Another tip: if you can get away with it, make photocopies of your coupons and buy as many items as you can. In other words, if there are 23 jars of peanut butter on the shelf and you can make 23 copies of a coupon for that peanut butter, by golly, make the copies and grab them all!
  • We were encouraged to purchase the Sunday newspaper inserts (recommended buying between 5-10 copies each week) but not the actual newspaper itself (who needs news, anyway, right? Oh yeah – I DO)
  • I found out that 7-inch binders DO exist and that you can fit around a million coupons into each one
  • We were told that we weren’t suppose to worry about all of the space our groceries will take up in our house. Sure, we may trip over a case of soup from time to time. But, we were told that we’ll learn to live that way after awhile.
The hour we spent listening to this gal talk about coupon-ing was fascinating. While I admire her determination and the commitment it must take to stay on top of the weekly sales, there is absolutely NO WAY I could ever become a coupon-er. No way. First of all, I don’t have any desire to go through, clip and organize 10 sets of coupons every week. Secondly, there’s no way I’d be willing to search through all of the Wednesday circulars to see what items will be on sale at all of the different stores I shop at and then compare those sales to the coupons I’ve collected. Thirdly, my house is already small enough – I do NOT need to start filling it with a year’s worth of boxed noodles, a 6 month supply of mouthwash and/or 140 trial size shampoo bottles.

Don’t get me wrong – I still appreciate a good coupon. And from time to time I do like to carefully rip one or two off a page. Buy one Herbal Essence shampoo get the conditioner free? You bet I will! 20% off my next purchase at Bed Bath & Beyond! Sounds good to me! But 5 coupons to buy 10 yogurts and save a buck? Nope. Not for me. Just because I like yogurt a fair amount doesn’t mean I need to fill my bottom refrigerator shelf with 50 yogurts that I only ended up spending 15 cents a piece for because they were already on sale. No way, José.

AUTUMN QUINOA SALAD

(serves 1 entree or 2 sides)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c quinoa
  • 1 c chicken broth (or water if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp herbs de Provence
  • almonds or pecans

Directions:

Cook your quinoa by combining it with the chicken broth in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, lid and turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking, saute your onions in olive oil in a medium pan with 1/2 tsp salt. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Cook until they are translucent, around 8 minutes.

Combine the cooked quinoa with the sauteed onions and add cranberries and herbs de Provence. Taste test – need more salt? If it does, consider adding another 1/4 tsp or less.

Garnish with almonds or pecans and enjoy as a meal or as a side dish to roasted chicken or maybe a nice pork tenderloin chop.

NOTE: I know the photos for this recipe don’t make sense. When I started out I thought I wanted to use candied almonds. But then, once it was all together I went with the pecans because with the onions and cranberries it was already sweet enough. However, next time I make this I’ll try it with plain almonds because I’m sure that will be delicious!

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