Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quinoa & Beef Stuffed Baby Peppers

I usually walk right by these baby peppers at the store because I think they are too much work.  For some reason, I grabbed a bag and boy-oh-boy, am I glad that I did.  This recipe is delicious!

I'm pretty sure that I out-did myself on this one.  These Baby Stuffed Peppers turned out AMAZING!
This recipe started out as a way to clean out the fridge and it transformed in to absolute greatness.  Sometimes my culinary abilities shock me.  It's so darn fun.

If you're looking for a vegetarian option, the filling is so delicious that it would still be good without the ground beef.

*I had filling leftover, so I froze it for an easy meal in the future.  The filling would also be good by itself, rolled up in a tortilla, as a based for soup, or even on top of a bed of greens.*

Quinoa & Beef Stuffed MIni Peppers
2# bag of mini bell peppers, seeded & halved
1# ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 T cumin
1.5 T chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 tsp beef bouillon (I use "Better than Bouillon," it's easy, awesome and no MSG).

1 can black beans, drained/rinsed
1 can corn, drained/rinsed
1 cup salsa
1/2 c. cilantro chopped
1/4 c. light cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 c. shredded cheese

1. Bring a pot of water with steam tray in it to a boil. Slice peppers in half (length-wise) and remove seeds.  Steam the peppers for a 3-4 minutes to soften up. Remove and pour onto a towel to drain.

2. Combine quinoa, water and bouillon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Remove from heat.

3. Brown the ground beef, draining off any excess drippings.  Add onion, garlic and seasoning, continue to brown until onion is softened and meat is cooked through.  Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

4.  In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, beef mixture, beans, corn, salsa, cilantro, cream cheese and shredded cheese.  Stir well until cream cheese melts.

5. Place peppers on a foil lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Spoon mixture onto peppers. I like them over-filled, so I'm very generous with the filling.

6. Bake @ 350* for about 30 minutes. Serve over a shmear (yes this is a word) of refried beans.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Asian Beef with Broccoli

I hereby designate this my blood donor recovery meal.  Iron rich lean beef, vitamin C packed broccoli (more so than an orange!)... all wrapped together in a warm, comforting meal.  Snuggle up and enjoy.

Check out that lovely marbling in my grass-fed beef.  

 Asian Beef with Broccoli*
1 lb flank steak or tenderloin steak, sliced thinly against the grain
3 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
1 TB cooking oil
Steamed rice 

Beef Marinade
3 tsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Stir Fry Sauce
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB water
2 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (or Chinese black vinegar)
1 TB minced garlic

1. Combine, marinade ingredients and pour over thinly sliced beef (in a shallow dish). Marinate at least 10-15 minutes (or longer) at room temperature.

2. Steam broccoil for about 3 minutes, until bright green and "crisp yet fork tender." Meanwhile, combine stir fry sauce and set aside.

3. Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add a little oil and swirl to coat.  Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side. Add garlic and saute for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant.

4. Pour in the Stir-fry Sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.

5. Serve over steamed rice
* Adapted from a Pioneer Woman's recipe

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bar Nuts

The first time I had these cashews, I'm pretty sure I ate the entire container.  They are delicious and slightly addicting.  Luckily, I was able to get the recipe.  They are a fun little gift to make during the holidays.  It's a nice salty break from all of the sweets.  I like to put them in glass jelly jars, because they are quite pretty.

Fresh rosemary is a MUST! And this recipe uses quite a bit.  If you become addicted to these cashews, like I am, you will probably start growing your own rosemary.

I mean look at that goodness... you know you want to whip up a batch of these NOW!  So just do it, you won't be sorry.

Bar Nuts (*adapted from Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts)
4 c. of cashews (1.5 pounds)
1/4 c. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 T melted butter

Roast nuts in a 350* oven for 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown and starting to smell good. (Watch carefully, they will burn in a hurry).  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients to make a paste (of sorts).  Pour paste onto hot nuts and toss until every last nut is coated.  Allow to cool completely, then package as desired (or just pour in a pretty bowl and serve at a party).
WARNING: Severely addictive

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mexican Lasagna

I have been a lazy, no-good cook ALL summer long.  I'll be the first to admit it.  I'm sick of not eating homemade food and I'll bet my husband is too.  Thankfully, the craziness of summer is over and we can all look forward to brisk weather that is much more suitable for cooking.

Since I've been so incredibility lazy, I'm going to start back with an easy-peasy recipe, Mexican Lasagna.  This is my go-to for feeding a larger group OR feeding just two, but having plenty of leftovers for the week.

I cannot believe I haven't posted this recipe yet.... (I just had to go double check that I hadn't already posted it). I make it all the time... and for darn good reason --> It's plain tasty and full of nutritious goodness (yes, that's a technical term).

Read on...

Drain and rinse 1 can of black beans and 1 can of sweet corn. Combine with a can of drained/diced tomatoes (You can choose mexican flavored tomatoes for extra flair). These three ingredients appear a lot in my kitchen!

Now start browning up some lean ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, even TVP, if your vegetarian). Drain off any excess fat, then season with 1.5 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (*optional for those who don't like the heat).  Add in the juice from one fresh lime.  Give it a taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  I usually end up adding more cumin, because I'm obsessed with cumin.

While the meat is browning combine 16oz. ricotta, 2 eggs, 1/2-1 cup chopped cilantro and 1 cup grated cheese.

When meat is done, combine with the corn-bean-tomato mixture.

Now line the bottom of 2 square 8"greased baking dishes (or one 9x13") with corn tortillas (they act like the noodles in your "Mexican" lasagna!).  If it's just Greg and I, I usually made 2 square pans and freeze one for a quick dinner on another night.

Now begin the layering, top the tortillas with 1/2 the meat/veg mixture, all of the cheese mixture, then tortillas.... add remaining meat/veg mixture and top with plenty of grated cheese.

Bake @ 375* for 35-40 minutes or until heated through and golden on top.  Apparently, I was either very hungry or being a major airhead the night I made this, because I didn't take a picture of the finished product.... but use your imagination, it's pure awesomeness!

Mexican Lasagna
1# ground meat
1.5 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin 
1/4 tsp cayenne
juice from one lime
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 large (28oz) can tomatoes, drained
1# ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 to 1 cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 cups shredded cheese
12-16 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 375*,  grease either a 9x13 OR two 8" square baking dishes (you can either make one large lasagna, or 2 small ones, for freezing or sharing with a neighbor). 
Brown meat, discard drippings. Season meat (including a squeeze of lime), adjust if necessary.  Combine meat with corn, beans and tomatoes.
Combine ricotta, eggs, cilantro, 1c shredded cheese. Line bottom of greased pan with corn tortillas, top the tortillas with 1/2 the meat/veg mixture, all of the cheese mixture, then tortillas.... add remaining meat/veg mixture and top with plenty of grated cheese.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until heat through and golden on top.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

One more summer salad- Queso Fresco Corn Salad

I think this will be the last of my installments for Summer Salads.  This one is a little different because it's not a "pasta" salad.  This salad is best the day you make it, unlike my last few recipes.  It's a great recipe to bring to a social event.  You can easily make adjustments depending on the veggies you have on hand.  Use up those garden goodies!

*Queso Fresco Corn Salad*
Cilantro Lime Dressing:
2 TB fresh lime juice
2 TB rice wine/white vinegar
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp honey
1/2 c canola oil
1/4-1/2 c cilantro

Combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, honey in a blender or food processor.  Add oil in a steady stream until combined. Pulse in cilantro to desired consistency.

4 c fresh/frozen corn (I use one 12 oz. bag of yellow and one bag of white, thawed)
8-10 oz queso fresco/cojito, crumbled
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion this time, but often will use a pretty red onion!)
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
1-2 avocados, cubed
Salt & pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients except avocado, toss in Cilantro lime dressing (above).  Add avocado just prior to serving (to prevent browning).

*Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

Monday, July 29, 2013

Corn & Feta Pasta Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Pasta salad is the answer to summer time cooking (or anytime of the year that you don't want to spend time in the kitchen in the evening)!  Make it in the morning (or the day before)  and stay out of the kitchen for the rest of the day!

This recipe uses a very small pasta, like stars, orzo or even Israeli couscous.  There are many other small pastas available, so choose one that's cute, fun or that the kids might like.  The pasta is so small it almost looks like rice, but it's not!

Bring it to a family BBQ, have it for dinner, bring it for lunch, have it as a snack.  Just try it.  You won't be disappointed!

*Corn & Feta Pasta Salad with Basil Vinaigrette*
Cook Pasta:
1.5 c. small pasta (orzo, couscous, little stars, mini bow ties, etc)
  • Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cooled.
3/4 c. fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 c. olive oil
2 TB red wine vinegar
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar and shake to combine.
Veggies, etc:
1/2 c.  sweet onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 can sweet corn, drained and rinsed OR about 1 cup of fresh corn, cooked
6 oz. feta cheese crumbled.
  • Prepare all veggies and place in a large bowl.  Add cooled pasta and dressing.  Toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  (This dish can also be served over salad greens.)

*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cilantro Lime Pasta Salad

"Summa time and the livin' is easy"..... unless you don't have central air conditioning.
This summer, we are living in a small apartment with western exposure. We have a small window A/C unit in our bedroom, but the kitchen remains stifling hot.  Cooking dinner (AKA the hottest part of the day) is no bueno when your kitchen is approximately 85-90 degrees.  I am not complaining however, because summer is my favorite time of the year and I embrace (or adapt to)ALL things summer, even hot kitchens.

My adaptation is Pasta Salad.

Pasta salad can be made in the AM when it's nice and cool, and it just gets better as the day passes.  My trick to cooking in the summer is Pasta Salads and Grilling (fish, burgers, chicken, etc).  So I will be sharing a couple of my fav Pasta Salad recipes.  I just finished off the last of this one for lunch.  IT's REALLY GREAT: It's a new twist, it uses up your garden veggies, it's pretty and it's just awesome!

*Cilantro Lime Pasta Salad*
Cook Pasta:
6-8 oz. of dry pasta, about 1/2 of a normal bog/box (I used a combination of rotini and penne)

  • Cook pasta to al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cool.

1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/4-1/2 c. fresh cilantro
2 TB olive oil
1 TB honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  • While pasta cooks, combine above ingredients in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds.
Veggies, etc:
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c. green onions, sliced (could also use a 1/2 c.  of sweet onion here for substitute)
1 mango, peach, nectarine, etc, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (I used a nectarine)
1 avocado, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 bell peppers, chopped (Use a variety of colors!)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped.

  • Prepare veggies and place in a large bowl.  Add pasta and dressing, toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. ENJOY!

*Recipe adapted from: &