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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.

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CEiMB: Chicken Pepian

4 Aug

I am currently out of town so please bear with me if I don’t respond to your comments in a timely manner. I promise to get back to you as soon as I’m settled back home. Be sure to check back Monday for an awesome guest post!

Several weeks ago, my good friend Bri of Yoshimi vs. Motherhood was the CEiMB host of the week and chose this Chicken Pepian. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t have my food processor readily available, and I was afraid the blender I had would not stand up to the task of making this tomatillo sauce. I was incredibly disappointed to not be able to cook along with the group that week, particularly once I read the positive reviews. I used this recipe as an excuse to dig my food processor out of storage, and it was well worth the effort.

Even though this recipe sounded a little complicated at first, the dish was very easy to make and came together quickly. I only have two notes for the next time I make this dish: First, I will probably just grill the chicken then serve it alongside the Pepian sauce OR I will use cutlets instead of thick chicken breasts because the pan-frying method didn’t work well for me with this recipe. Second, I will either only make half the sauce or be ready to freeze the other half. I’ve got about half the sauce in my freezer right now as the recipe yielded way more than what we used with four pieces of chicken, but I’m looking forward to having it on-hand when I’m looking for a quick chicken dinner.

Chicken Pepian
10 medium tomatillos (about 3/4 pound)
1 poblano pepper, halved, seeds removed
1 medium onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup no salt added vegetable broth
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
5 whole peppercorns
2 whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tsp salt
4 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the broiler. Remove papery outer layer from tomatillos then rinse them in warm water to remove some of their natural stickiness. Pat dry, then cut into quarters. Toss tomatillos, poblano, quartered onion and garlic with 4 teaspoons of the oil, place on a baking sheet and broil until charred, about 10 minutes.

Place tomatillos, poblano, onions and garlic, cilantro, broth, jalapeno, pumpkin seeds and spices and salt in a blender and blend on high until totally smooth, about 30 seconds.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet and cook the chicken until browned on both sides and nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Add Pepian sauce to skillet, covering chicken pieces. Bring to a simmer and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken topped with sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Serves 8.
Modified from Ellie Krieger.

Shrimp in Lemony Garlic Sauce

1 Aug


There are few recipes that I will make repeatedly, but this is one that I have made probably dozens of times. Why? Because it is so easy and so good! It’s been ages since I last made it, and I’m not sure what the reason behind the hiatus is because now that it’s made a reappearance, I know it will be requested again and again. Similar to shrimp scampi, this dish has all the lemony, garlicky goodness without all the rich butter that can be heavy and greasy. I usually serve the shrimp with brown rice, but it would be awesome over whole wheat pasta as well.

I’m heading out to Toronto first thing tomorrow morning and won’t be back for a week, so if I’m unable to respond to your comments in a timely fashion, know that I’ll get back to you once I’m home. I hope you all have a fabulous week and I’ll be sure to share some of my pics when I get back! I’ve never been to Canada before, so I’m VERY excited, especially about seeing Niagara Falls! Have you been? Thoughts?

Shrimp in Lemony Garlic Sauce
cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Arrange shrimp in a single layer in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine lemon juice and next 5 ingredients; pour over shrimp.

Bake at 425°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Serves 4.
From Weight Watchers.

CEiMB: Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu

14 Jul


As many of you know, my life has taken a huge turn over the last three months, and as I’ve waded through rather murky waters and climbed some rather steep hills, it’s my friends that have gotten me through. And included in that group is each member of the fantastic blogging group Craving Ellie in My Belly. Each week they cheer me on, and the sense of camaraderie in our intimate circle of chefs is something that means the world to me. Cooking and being in the kitchen has been like therapy to me, and to be able to share that with my CEiMBistas and all my readers has been a fantastic joy. Thank you all!

Now, before I get any mushier, let’s get to the recipe. This week was my turn to host, and I always feel such excitement to look through my books for a new recipe to try out. Unfortunately, with all my cookbooks in storage, I had to turn to an older Ellie Krieger book for inspiration this month. In “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” Ellie describes this stir fry dish as a calcium heavy hitter. She explains that it’s a great source of calcium even without the presence of dairy, and we all know how important it is to get enough calcium, especially for women.

I’ve mentioned before how supportive my parents have been both in life in general but also when it comes to my cooking. So far they have tried everything I’ve served with a good bit of enthusiasm. I was afraid the tofu might scare them off, but they were even open-minded about this meat-free dinner. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a hit. My mom said, “It just doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as the other dishes you normally make,” and my dad said, “Hmm. I don’t really like it, but I’ll eat it.” Ha! Overall, I just felt like it turned out a little bland. I had been most afraid about the tofu, but it ended up being the sauce, or lack thereof, that turned us all off from this dish. We did all agree, however, that with a little Sriracha hot sauce, it was MUCH better. I think I liked it the best of the three of us, but it’s still not something I would make again as written. I have conquered my fear of tofu though because that is one part of this dish I would definitely eat again.

Hopefully those of you who cooked along with me this week enjoyed this dish a bit more than my family did, and I hope the tofu didn’t scare anybody off too much :) I can’t wait to see what all the other CEiMBers made, and if you want to follow along, be sure to check out the blogroll or consider joining in the fun!

Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu
3 small bunches bok choy (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped scallion
1 pound cooked, marinated tofu cubes (recipe to follow or buy store-bought)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (which I completely forgot… oops!)

Cut 1 inch off the bottom of bok choy and wash the separated stalks. Chop the bok choy crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Heat the oil in a wok or large deep skillet over a medium flame. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the scallion and bok choy. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Stir in the tofu, soy sauce, 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced slightly and the tofu is warmed, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Marinated Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
cooking spray

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much of the water as possible. This should take about 3 paper towels and 2 minutes. Cut the tofu into cubes.

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, and canola oil. Add the tofu cubes and toss gently. Cover and let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place the tofu in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 4.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” p. 186 and 221

Enchilada Casserole

6 Jul


Between blogs, magazine subscriptions, e-newsletters, etc. I see a ton of recipes every day. I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes some stand out over others, but sometimes I just see a recipe and think “I have to make this right now.” At least, this was the case when I saw a recipe from Taste of Home for their “Enchilada Casser-Ole!” To me it looked and sounded like a combination of two of my favorite foods: tacos and lasagna. Of course, I had to try it!

I did make a few substitutions; some in order to “healthify” it a bit more, and some just for taste preferences (I was wary of using Italian dressing so I opted for tomato sauce instead). The end result was phenomenal and definitely something I’ll make again. It was also delicious leftover which made a great lunch for the rest of the week – always an added bonus.

Enchilada Casserole
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced salsa style tomatoes
1 cup dry black beans, cooked
8 ounces no salt added tomato sauce
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 whole wheat tortillas
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
4 ounces reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, cook ground meat and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, cooked beans, tomato sauce, taco seasoning and cumin. Place three tortillas in a 2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers.

Cover and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.
Adapted from Taste of Home

Individual Lemon Berry Trifles

1 Jul


Have you noticed a loosely-based theme here this week? Barbecue chicken, picnic-friendly wraps, and a quick and easy side dish? It was all to gear you up for today’s very obviously Independence Day dessert! What is more patriotic than a red white and blue dessert? Well, lots of things, obviously, but for the sake of this blog, we’ll say nothing :D And what screams summer more than fresh berries? Not much! So here we have it, the perfect patriotic, summery dessert.

And wouldn’t it just crack you up to know that these came about from a major mess up in the kitchen on my part? Well, they did. You see, I did something I usually avoid. I tried baking. *dun, dun, dun!* Not only that, I tried low fat baking. I have heard from multiple sources that a can of diet soda plus a box of cake mix will make a fluffy, tasty, low calorie, low fat dessert. Supposedly you just can’t even tell the difference between that cake and a cake with oil and eggs in it. I did say supposedly.

Taste-wise, there was no difference. I used a can of diet cream soda and a box of lemon cake mix, and it tasted heavenly. The problem is that the muffins just did not want to come out of their pan. At all. They were just crumbling into bits. It was a huge mess. Since I had planned to serve the little mini muffins covered with berries anyway, I improvised and these mini trifles were born! And you know what, I think they turned out even better than what I had been expecting. The lesson I learned is that when life hands you a crumbly piece of lemon cake, turn it into a mini berry trifle :D

Individual Lemon Berry Trifles
1 box lemon cake mix
1 12-ounce can diet cream soda
6 cups mixed berries, cleaned and sliced
12 tablespoons light whipped cream
12 fresh mint leaves

Combine lemon cake mix and diet soda. Mix well. Pour batter into a mini muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Bake as directed on box.

Once cakes are baked and cooled, crumble one into the bottom of a small glass or mini trifle dish. Top with approximately 1/4 cup berries. Repeat each layer. Continue this process for all 12 cups.

Right before serving, add a one tablespoon dollop of whipped cream to each glass, and garnish with mint leaves.

Makes 12 trifles.

CEiMB: Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

23 Jun


I really love participating in Craving Ellie in My Belly. Ellie Krieger has some truly delicious recipes, and it’s a great excuse to make a new one every week. Plus, the bloggers that faithfully cooks along each week are just an amazing group of ladies, and I feel so lucky to be part of their club! This week’s host, Margaret of Tea and Scones, not only makes some of the most delectable looking breads and pastries I’ve ever seen, she is so sweet.

And just like Margaret in a game of Words With Friends, this recipe was a winner! I had to make a few changes based on what I could find at the store – like subbing yellow squash for zucchini and leeks with a little fennel seed for a bulb of fennel – but the roasted vegetables came out delicious! Unfortunately my other substitution, using boneless chicken breast with a lemon pepper rub did not turn out as well. The flavor was great, but our chicken got a little overdone. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the bone-in chicken, or maybe I will just cook the chicken separately, either way, I’ll definitely be making these roasted veggies again. Delicious!

Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

6 Roma tomatoes
3 medium yellow squash
2 leeks
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning blend
3 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds. Trim the squash and cut it in half crosswise and then cut each piece in half lengthwise once if the piece is thin and twice if it is thicker, so that the pieces are relatively uniform. Do the same with the leeks so they are cut twice lengthwise, into thin strips.

Put the vegetables into a large baking pan. Toss them with garlic, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then give the vegetables a stir and add the rosemary and fennel.

Rub the lemon pepper seasoning on the chicken breasts then arrange the chicken pieces in the pan with the vegetables. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes more until the chicken is done and the vegetable are tender and beginning to brown.

Serves 3.
From Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” p. 210

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