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Meatless Monday: Mexican Quinoa Casserole

8 Aug

I am currently out of town, and while I’m away, I asked Sarah, one of my favorite meatless bloggers, to do a guest post for Meatless Monday for me. I am so excited with what she came up with and can’t wait to try it once I’m home! I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome and be sure to check out her blog for lots of great healthy living tips.

Hey there! My name is Sarah and I blog over at Sarah Snacks. I’m so excited to be here and that Liz asked me to do a Meatless Monday guest post today.

I’m a big fan of Meatless Monday! Going meatless just one day a week can have numerous benefits including reducing your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, reducing your carbon footprint and saving resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

While I’m meatless every day, you may not be able to (or even want to) go completely meatless. And that’s okay! One meatless day can help. It can help your health. It can help the environment. And it can help the animals. One of my favorite quotes is: ”Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.” – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

This is one of my favorite recipes for Meatless Monday! It’s so easy and inexpensive! Oh yeah, and it’s delicious!! If you don’t like or don’t have quinoa you can use brown rice instead.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole
Ingredients:
3 cups cooked quinoa*
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar of your favorite salsa
a couple of handfuls of your favorite cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sautee onion, bell pepper, and garlic until tender.

Stir together the quinoa, sautéed veggies, beans, corn, and salsa.

Pour into a 9×13 pan and sprinkle the top with your cheese.

Bake for about 30 mins or until the cheese is nice and melty.

Serve with more salsa, a big spoonful of guacamole, and some tortilla chips for optimal scoopage!

Oh, and the leftover casserole makes a KILLER burrito filling!!!

*Tip for cooking quinoa… I cook mine in my rice cooker! I do equal parts quinoa and water and turn it on. It turns out perfect and fluffy every single time.

To print the recipe, click here.

CEiMB: Noodle-Vegetable Salad

28 Jul


I’m still recovering from an icky stomach bug that I’ve had most of this week, so I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. Danica was our lovely hostess of the week for CEiMB, and she chose Soba Noodle-Vegetable Salad and Chicken Satay. Since I made the chicken quite some time ago and didn’t much care for the peanut butter sauce, I opted to stick with just the Noodle-Vegetable Salad this go-round. It came together quickly and seemed to be a hit with my book club girls!

Noodle-Vegetable Salad
5 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 leek, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded carrots
1 medium green bell pepper, julienned
2/3 cup basil, roughly chopped
1/3 cup Chinese rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
the juice and zest of one lime
1 teaspoon fish sauce

Boil noodles according to package directions. Drain and cool. In a medium to large bowl, combine noodles, leek, carrot, bell pepper, and basil. Combine all dressing ingredients, season with salt to taste, add to noodle mixture, and toss lightly.

Serves 8.
Modified from Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life.”

Meatless Monday: Penne with Spinach and Arugula in a Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

25 Jul


You know what’s awesome? Using an ingredient you haven’t had the best success with in the past only to discover that you actually love it. For me, this time at least, I am talking about arugula. I’ve tried it in a few different recipes in the past and never really been a fan, but I have to tell you, it really sings in this dish. The peppery bite adds something fantastic against the citrusy hint of lemon and sweet fresh basil. The ingredient list is short, but the end result is incredibly flavorful and fragrant!

Penne with Spinach and Arugula in a Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan Sauce

1 13.25-ounce box of whole wheat penne
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
5 ounces baby spinach and arugula blend, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh basil, roughly chopped

Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, being careful to cook only until al dente.

In a small bowl, mix lemon zest and juice with ricotta and parmesan cheeses. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add greens and basil, cooking until they are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese mixture.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before straining. Toss pasta into cheese and greens mixture, slowly adding pasta water as needed to form a creamy sauce.

Serves 6.
Modified from Fine Cooking

MKMW: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

22 Jun


This month, once I decided to participate in My Kitchen, My World, I decided that I would prepare an Indonesian meal, not just a single dish. So along with the Acar Ketimum, I decided to serve this Indonesian version of fried rice and an easy spin on chicken satay. For the satay, I just used a store-bought sauce so there will be no recipe for that, but I felt like I had to at least include it in the meal since it seems pretty common fare for the area.

Since I wasn’t able to find a couple of the more exotic ingredients called for in this rice dish, I’m not sure how authentic it turned out being. I’m also not sure how much of an impact my substitutions had on the final product, but overall, it turned out to be pretty bland. I don’t think I would make it again, but I am definitely open to trying other Indonesian recipes if I can find the proper ingredients. And I definitely enjoyed my little mini vacation as part of the MKMW!

Nasi Goreng

2 cups long grain white rice
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
8 ounces shrimp
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

At least two hours ahead of time, or preferable the night before, boil rice in plenty of salted water until cooked, following package instructions. Rinse, drain and spread the rice to cool.

Combine eggs with sesame oil and salt, and put aside.

Heat wok or large frying pan over heat until hot. Add oil, and wait until it is very hot and slightly smoking. Add the onions, ginger, fish sauce, garlic, and pepper, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add chicken and shrimp and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Add rice and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes. Now add the chile sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes.

In a small skillet, make 2 thin omelettes from the egg mixture and cut into strips. Mix into rice.

Serves 6.

CEiMB: Apple-Pecan Muffins

9 Jun


A couple weekends ago, I decided to try baking some lemon muffins. From a box mix. And it was a disaster. Despite coating the pan with cooking spray, the muffins all stuck and had to be scraped out into a crumbly mess. It was such a disappointment and also the perfect example of what kind of baker I am. A horrible one. As I mentioned yesterday, I love to cook, but a pastry chef I am not.

I really envy those of you who are bakers. We have some fantastically talented women in CEiMB that baked up breads, tarts, souffles, and anything else you could think of. It all looks so delicious, but I always have to enjoy it from afar because I don’t dare tackle some of the recipes these ladies whip up with ease. Well, this week is my turn to participate along with them as we all bake these Apple-Pecan Muffins chosen by our host of the week Joanne of Apple Crumbles. Joanne is a faithful CEiMBista; I don’t think I’ve seen her ever miss a week posting! I find this particularly inspiring since she has to vegetarianize all the recipes, yet every week she makes it work. I love seeing what she makes, and reading about both her meals and racing triumphs is so inspirational.

But back to the muffins. I was starting to get worried because I was missing two ingredients: baking soda and buttermilk. After a little internet research, I learned that using 2 teaspoons of baking powder in place of 1 teaspoon baking soda should work out OK. And then I decided to just use regular milk instead of buttermilk. Oh well. I have to say, these turned out great! They are so incredibly moist, and I just love the crunchy sugar/pecan topping. I was so impressed with my baking abilities that I just might try it again next week! :D The only recipe note I have is that even though I halved this recipe, I still ended up with 9 rather large muffins, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to make!

Apple-Pecan Muffins
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch + 7/8 cup whole wheat flour (or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup fat free milk
1 medium Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray or foil muffin liners.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from pan, and cool completely on the rack.

Makes 18 muffins.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life,” p. 22

Pasta with Chicken and Pepper-Cheese Sauce

8 Jun


I love to cook. I always have. I remember being quite young and being in the kitchen helping my grandmas and mom cook. I am comfortable in the kitchen, and cooking is something I feel I do really well. And I love to feed people. Especially my family. So when my brother gets excited when he finds out I’m cooking dinner, it’s a huge compliment to me. And luckily for him, this is the dish I had made.

Spicy? Cheesy? Yes,please. Those are two of my favorite words when it comes to recipes, so I was all about this one. I basically followed the recipe except that I did “healthify” it a bit by substituting in reduced fat and fat free dairy products, which cut the saturated fat in half without compromising any of the flavor! This was a bit on the spicy side, especially topped with the fresh jalapeno slices, so if you prefer a milder flavor, you may want to use only half a pepper.

Pasta with Chicken and Pepper-Cheese Sauce
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 4 ounces each
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup no salt added chicken broth
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.

2. In a small mixing bowl combine 1 tablespoon flour, salt, red pepper and black pepper. Toss flour mixture with chicken to coat. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, chopped jalapeno pepper, and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon; set aside.

4. Add chicken to the skillet. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet.

5. Stir 2 tablespoons flour into drippings in skillet. Add broth, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add the cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into the sour cream; return all of the sour cream mixture to skillet. Stir in chicken and vegetables. Cook until heated through. Do not boil.

6. Arrange pasta on individual plates or a large platter. Spoon the chicken mixture over pasta. If desired, garnish with jalapeno pepper slices.

Serves 4.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens “Easy Everyday Cooking,” p. 187

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