Mexican Quinoa Casserole


I was totally lost for dinner ideas last week. I had an abundance of quinoa but that was about it. A trip to the store and a few canned goods later, I had an idea. I was going to make some kind of Mexican quinoa casserole. It was great! You’ll have to forgive the loose measurements below, as I was wingin’ it.

The Food: Quinoa, Black Beans, Corn

Ingredients:

3/4 C. dry Quinoa

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can corn, drained

1 can diced green chiles

1/2 jar salsa (I used medium)

1/2 C-ish grated cheese (I used colby jack)

Heaping spoonful fiesta ranch yogurt dip (My roommate’s concoction. Mix dry packet fiesta ranch dip w/ non-fat Greek yogurt)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In saucepan, combine 3/4 cup dry quinoa, 1/4 t salt and 1.5 C. water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 18-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well to make sure everything is incorporated. Pour into greased casserole dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top. I kicked the oven up to 375 for the last 5 minutes because I was getting impatient. *Optional, top with crumbled tortilla chips. Enjoy!

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The Food: Mexican Quinoa Casserole

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Lightened up Veggie Pasta Bake

What should I make for dinner? It’s probably one of the tougher questions I face on a daily basis. When last facing this decision, I stumbled upon this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens on Pinterest and knew I had a solution (at least for this week.)

The recipe doesn’t specify whole wheat tortellini, but that’s what I opted for. I also lightened it up by using almond milk and Greek yogurt instead of cow’s milk and cream cheese.

The Food: Veggies on veggies, tortellini

Ingredients:

2 9 oz packages refrigerated cheese tortellini (I found a whole wheat kind)

2 1/2 C fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1/2 C thinly sliced carrot

1 T butter

1 C sliced fresh mushrooms

1/3 C vegetable broth

2 t  flour

1 1/2 t dried oregano, crushed

1/2 t garlic salt (I used 1/4 t garlic powder and 1/4 t salt)

1/2 t ground black pepper

1 C milk (I used almond)

8 oz package cream cheese, cubed and softened (I used plain Greek yogurt)

1 T lemon juice

1 C quartered cherry tomatoes

1/2 C coarsely chopped red or green sweet pepper

2  T grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Cook tortellini according to package directions and add peas and carrot for the last minute of cooking; drain.

While the tortellini is cooking, in a 12-inch skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender – about 5 minutes – then remove from skillet.

In a screw-top jar combine veggie broth, flour, oregano, garlic salt and black pepper. Cover and shake until smooth. Pour into the same skillet and add milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add cream cheese (yogurt) then cook and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Finally, stir tortellini mixture, mushrooms, tomatoes and sweet pepper into skillet mixture. Spoon it all into an ungreased 3-quart baking dish. Bake, covered, about 30 minutes or until heated through. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

The Fare: Veggie Pasta Bake

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This was so tasty and made enough for a few meals. I topped mine with sea salt, garlic powder and crushed red pepper. You could use any number of vegetables in this recipe – spinach, zucchini, asparagus.  Next time I would also consider sautéing some minced garlic with the mushrooms for added flavor.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

There’s just something comforting about devouring a warm, cheesy casserole from the oven. What’s even better is when you know it’s a slightly healthier alternative to the original.

I first spotted this recipe for a broccoli quinoa casserole on Pinterest and knew I wanted to try it. Swapping out rice for protein-packed quinoa? Genius. I made it as is the first time around and it was delicious. When I  decided to add some embellishments the second time, it was still just as delicious.

The original recipe called for 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, but I used plain Greek yogurt instead. Can’t taste a difference. I also used almond milk instead of cow’s milk because that’s all I had in the fridge. Again, no difference. The recipe calls for a can of condensed cream of broccoli or cream of mushroom soup, but I found a roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup that I prefer. (I might even toss in some minced garlic to the casserole next time for added flavor.) The original called for 2 cups cooked broccoli, but I just bought a large head of broccoli and chopped it up and cooked it. Surely a little extra broccoli can’t hurt. 🙂 Finally, I added a can of sliced water chestnuts and about 2 cups of fresh spinach.

The Food: Broccoli, Quinoa

Ingredients:

One 10 oz can condensed cream of mushroom/broccoli/roasted garlic & mushroom soup

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)

1 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack, but you could use whatever you prefer)

1/2 teaspoon sugar (or sugar substitue)

1/4 teaspoon(ish) black pepper

Dash nutmeg

2 cups (approximately) cooked broccoli

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 cups fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups  cooked quinoa

Grated Parmesan cheese

Breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions:
To cook quinoa, combine  3/4 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water and a dash of salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover for about 20 minutes or until quinoa tails show. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, place chopped broccoli in a steamer and cook 8-10 minutes until tender.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine soup, yogurt, cheese and milk. Add sugar, pepper and nutmeg. Then add spinach and water chestnuts, broccoli and quinoa. Mix well.

Pour mixture into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Grate a little Parmesan cheese on top, and if you want, add some breadcrumbs for a little crunch. Bake for 35-40 minutes and enjoy!

The Fare: Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

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Superfoods

Remember that one time I wrote about how great Gwyneth Paltrow is? Well she has inspired me again. The latest Goop newsletter to grace my inbox was about cooking with “superfoods.” In the newsletter GP writes that as the new year begins she is neither detoxing nor dieting, but rather trying to better incorporate these foods into her diet. And I’m right there with her. So when confronted with a nearly bare fridge at lunchtime yesterday, I decided to supplement leftovers with some superfoods (spinach and walnuts), and voilá! a delicious, filling and superfood-fortified lunch. Read on.

P.S. My apologies in advance for the vague measurements. As with most of the things I make, it’s mostly handfuls of this and that thrown together. (Isn’t it more fun that way?!)

The Food: Mom’s Leftover Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

Brown rice

1/2 onion, diced

1-2 stalks celery, diced

1 green Pepper, diced

Three large handfuls of spinach (that’s just for one person!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

Handful chopped walnuts

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Part 1. The leftovers. Momma’s rice pilaf consisted of brown rice, sauteed onion, celery and green pepper.

Cook the rice (2ish servings) according to directions. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in sauteé pan. Put 1 clove minced garlic and the diced onion in. Cook onion down then add celery and green pepper. Put it all together! (This makes a great side dish as is by the way.)

Part 2. Julianne makes lunch.

In sauteé pan, toss the handfuls of spinach and the other clove of minced garlic in with some olive oil. Wilt spinach. (This happens incredibly fast.) Then, toss approximately one bowlful of the “leftover” pilaf into the pan to mix it all together, and in theory warm up the leftover rice.

Once you dish it up, sprinkle your chopped walnuts on top and add a little grated parmesan. I also season mine with sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and a touch of garlic salt for some extra garlic flavor, although you could season with any number of delicious spices.

The Fare: Superfood Rice Pilaf

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Added bonus of eating this — chewing all the walnuts and cooked spinach takes time, so you eat slower, which is something I always need to remember to do anyway. Here’s to starting the new year off right!

-J

White Bean Soup

Yesterday, my mom made some chicken noodle soup. Although I helped her make it, I will not be eating any. So, consulting My Father’s Daughter, I made myself some soup this afternoon. Again, using GP’s recipe.

The Food: White Beans

3 T EVOO

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 lg. yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 lg. garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Pinch crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 pints vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS: In large soup pot heat EVOO. Add fennel and cook for 10 minutes (I did a little less) stirring occasionally. Add onion and garlic, turn heat as low as possible, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, till vegetables are tender. (I cooked 45 minutes, 30 uncovered and 15 covered.)

Add crushed red pepper, oregano, and pepper. Cook for a minute. Add beans and stock, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, salt to taste.

Cook on low for an hour. THEN. Dish up into broiler-safe bowls, top each with french bread and generously grated parmesan. Put under boiler till cheese melts and bread is crispy.

*The book offers this as one of two different ways to dish up the soup. For the other, check out the book.

 EAT.

The Fare: White Bean Soup

Vegetable Stock

I’m a vegetarian. Didn’t know that? Now you do.

Gwyneth Paltrow is amazing. Didn’t know that either? Shame on you.

I received her cookbook, My Father’s Daughterrecently and have been dying to make a few things. I wanted to make a soup, but first I had to start with with the stock. Vegetable stock at that. Thanks, GP.

The Food: Vegetables 

1 lg. yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 lg. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 celery stalk roughly chopped

1 lg. leek roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 sprigs fresh parsley

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh tarragon

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. coarse salt

1 tsp. black peppercorns

3 qts. cold water

We grew leeks in our garden this summer and have been keeping them in our garage. It was pretty cool to a. see the transformation from this

to this, and b. use food that I, er my parents grew to make this.

DIRECTIONS: Put everything into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool. Strain into container. (Use to make soup!)

(Oh did this smell great. If only there was a scent feature on this thing.)

The Fare: Vegetable Stock