Southwest Style Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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We have been eating so much cheese, pasta and take out recently that we needed to kick off this week with a healthy veggie dinner. I’m sure I don’t need to preach the benefits of quinoa too much these days because it has bee exhausted at this point, but I will highlight a few of my favorite qualities of this grain: gluten free, high in protein, high in fiber and super high in antioxidants. Just heed my advice and get this stuff into your diet immediately! This recipe is a slam dunk in that it is delicious without the fats, salt and carbs. Please note that I am not calling this recipe vegetarian or vegan because I did cook the quinoa with beef broth. YOU CAN make this vegetarian by cooking the quinoa with water.

Makes: 8 peppers     Calories: 176/stuffed half pepper    Time: prep- 30 mins, cook- 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers (the more round the better), cut in half with ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package. I cooked mine with beef broth but you can use vegetable broth or just water.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • OPTIONAL: if you like a little heat 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of sweet whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2/3 cup of your favorite salsa, we used “hot traditional”
  • OPTIONAL: cheese for topping

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package. This takes about 30 minutes so be sure to allot the time for this step.
  2. In a large bowl mix together cooked quinoa, garlic, green onion, spices, beans, corn and salsa.
  3. Prepare the peppers by halving them and cleaning out the ribs/seeds
  4. Scoop the quinoa mixture into each pepper halve and place in greased 9×13 baking dish.
  5. If you want to top the pepper with cheese do so now and cover the baking dish with foil.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes and remove the foil to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.thegardengrazer.com

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Sloppy Joe Casserole

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If you look at my pinterest search history you will find that 90% of my recipe search terms are “casserole.” I love the convenience of throwing a bunch of tasty things into a baking dish and letting magic happen in the oven. This recipe is especially wonderful as it takes the flavor of a Sloppy Joe and maximizes it with a cornbread base. Talk about savory sweet, this dish is packed with flavor! I chop up a bunch of extra vegetables to add a bit of crunch (and nutrients too I guess) and it is a slam dunk. I adapted this recipe from http://www.bunsinmyoven.com

Serves:  10    Calories: 462.4 per serving     Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8.5 oz) box of cornbread mix
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup of milk, I used 2%
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (14 3/4 oz) can of cream corn
  • 2 (16 oz) cans of sloppy joe sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13 baking dish
  2. Mix together the cornbread mix, 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, milk, egg, and cream corn.
  3. Pour this mixture into your baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes.
  4. While cornbread is baking melt the butter in a large pan.
  5. Sauté the onion and peppers for 3 minutes
  6. Add the ground beef and cook until it is no longer pink.
  7. Drain the fat from the pan. This is important because you don’t want this mixture to be too liquid-y.
  8. Add all but 1/2 cup of the sloppy joe sauce to the beef mixture and stir it all in.
  9. By now your cornbread should be done baking. Check for readiness with a toothpick (basically stab the cornbread with a toothpick once and if it comes out clean the bread is done).
  10. Puncture the cornbread with a fork to create little holes. Spread 1/2 cup of the sloppy joe sauce over the cornbread.
  11. Pour the beef mixture over the cornbread and spread evenly. Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese and return the baking dish to the oven for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven, let cool for a minute or two, top with green onions and serve.
  13. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.bunsinmyoven.com

Baked Jalapeño Popper Rolled Tacos

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I snagged this recipe from the Land o Lakes website. That’s right people I actually found a decent recipe off of a commercial brand’s website. I am willing to try my hand at anything inspired by jalapeño poppers. How could a recipe involving creamy, cheesy, spicy goodness go wrong?

These rolled tacos are amazing. There is really no other way to describe them. Their crispy baked shell add the perfect texture to a creamy filling. I went crazy with the jalapeños because we like spicy food so if you are not a big fan of heat I suggest using half of what this recipe calls for. These tacos are perfect for weeknights when time is tight as it doesn’t take very long to make. We finished with quite a few left overs, but keep in mind that only two of us were eating these. That said, if you have a larger family with older children you may want to double the recipe and stock your freezer with left overs. These are large rolled tacos, not your small 6 inch rolled street tacos. One of these with a side dish is more than enough to fill you up for dinner.

Makes: 10 rolled tacos     Calories: 295 per rolled taco    Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of milk, I used 2%
  • 1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
  • 1 (12oz) jar jalapeños, drained and chopped finely
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 10 flour tortillas

Directions

  1. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add cooked chicken, milk, cream cheese and jalapeños. Mix together until the cream cheese is soft and all ingredients are well mixed.
  2. Turn off heat and stir in cheddar cheese.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the chicken mixture over one half of each tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place each rolled taco on a baking sheet with the seam side down.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and brush a little over each taco.
  6. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from the oven to flip the tacos. Bake for an additional 7 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two before serving.
  8. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.landolakes.com

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Baked Cuban Sliders

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Not only are these sliders incredibly easy to make but they are also delicious. The sauce on top is the perfect addition and doesn’t mute, but instead enhances the flavor of the pickles and ham. It took a lot of self control to only have two of these for dinner. I could have easily been satisfied with a few more!  You only need a handful of ingredients for this recipe and about 30 minutes of time to make it. I was able to stuff a 9×13 baking dish and had another (smaller) pan of 7 more so we will definitely have leftovers for a few days. It is the perfect dish for busy weeknights. This recipe was inspired by http://www.houseofyumm.com you can find the original post on their beautiful website if you would like to check it out.

Serves: 24 sliders     Calories: 217 per slider     Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 24 Hawaiian rolls
  • 9oz thin sliced deli ham, we used honey ham
  • 2 (80z) packages of Swiss cheese
  • 1 (24 oz) jar of bread and butter pickles, I used a big jar because I packed on the pickles. If you want to use a smaller jar just go lightly on the pickles when you assemble the sliders.
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2.  Prepare your baking dish with cooking spray
  3. Cut all of the Hawaiian rolls in half. Place the bottom half of each roll evenly in your baking dish, reserving the top halves.
  4. Place the ham over the bottom halves of the rolls, next the cheese and finally the pickles.
  5. Place the tops of the rolls over the dish.
  6. Whisk together the butter, dijon mustard and onions. Spoon this sauce over the tops of the sliders. Don’t soak them with the sauce as they will get soggy. You want just enough sauce for flavor 😉
  7. Cover your dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Once 15 minutes is up remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up the tops of the sliders.
  8. Slice the sliders apart, serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.houseofyumm.com

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Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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I have seen these recipes floating around on pintrest for a while but I’ve been too skeptical to give them a try. Our neighbors, Ryan and Laura, are fellow foodies and we often share samples of what we are cooking. They gave us a sample of their zucchini boats a few weeks ago and it totally fueled this recipe. I was blown away by the flavor and heartiness of their boats. A bit later I bucked up and gave this taco variation a try. This is a safe place to start in the world of zucchini boats because you can add toppings and customize it to your tastes. We floated some Ghost Scream Hot Sauce (a gift from Ryan) that really kicked these babies up a notch. The recipe in general isn’t overwhelmingly “squash-y.” Instead it is a fresh addition to the classic taco flavor. I’m very excited to experiment with these and am looking to try out a sausage or lentil zucchini boat recipe in the near future. Massive thanks to Ryan and Laura for giving me the confidence to try this recipe! I also want to note that this recipe is adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Makes: 8 boats     Calories: 350     Time: 5o minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Zucchini
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno, chopped (if you like it hot include the seeds)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 packet of reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • (optional toppings we used) rotel tomatoes, hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. To keep stability of the zucchini boat on your baking pan cut a little sliver out of the green flesh on the bottom side so that the zucchini will lay flat. With a spoon scoop out the seeded middle part. Set the boats aside.
  3. In a large pan heat oil and saute the onion, tomato and jalapeno for about a minute
  4. Add the ground beef and crumble as you cook. When it is about half way done add the taco seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Stuff each zucchini boat with this beef mixture and place them on a greased baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and top with pepper jack cheese. Continue to bake them until cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from the oven once more and top with your favorite toppings.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

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It is not much of a secret that we love buffalo chicken. We’ve done soup, egg rolls, pizza and now we can check meatloaf off the list. My favorite thing about this loaf was not only how juicy it was but also how the tangy the top layer of sauce paired with the creamy and sharp Gorgonzola cheese. This is a rich loaf with TONS of flavor, and heat. It was super easy to throw together but bear in mind that it does take an hour to cook. It isn’t really a thirty minute meal, and that is because of cook time.

Serves: 8     Calories: 240 per serving     Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of chicken (get 2 lbs and save half of a lb for tacos later in the week!)
  • 1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 2/3 cup of celery, sliced
  • 1/3 cup Gorgonzola crumbles
  • 1 small white onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of milk, we used 1%
  • 1/2 cup of hot sauce, this is where you choose your adventure and tailor the heat to your tastes. We went with the hottest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp dried dill weed
  • Black pepper to taste

For the topping:

  • 3 tbsp hot sauce
  • 2+ tbsp Gorgonzola

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. We have a really cool pan that drips fat to the bottom. If you can get your hands on one I would definitely recommend it.
  3. In a large bowl mix ground chicken, bread crumbs, celery, Gorgonzola and onion.
  4. In a smaller bowl whisk milk, hot sauce, egg, salt, garlic powder, parsley, dill and pepper.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into chicken mixture and mix until combined. It will feel pretty “wet” but don’t worry because this is what makes it so juicy!
  6. Press mixture into a prepared pan.
  7. Brush with remaining 3 tbsp hot sauce and bake for 1 hour.
  8. Sprinkle with additional Gorgonzola cheese and continue to cook until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  9. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  10. Enjoy!

*Photo is original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.motherthyme.com

Baked Pesto Chicken – ★★★★★

1978774_10205587880114443_8010916815274238925_nThere is something to be said about a recipe that you just throw in a dish and bake. With a wild toddler and a brand new baby recipes like this are my saving grace. I am able to give my family a tasty meal without sacrificing nutrition and my own time with them. I’m learning that life is all about balance, so if that is something you are . I took some shortcuts to save even more time, for example using store-bought pesto and pre-sliced chicken breasts meant for stir fry. Perry gave five stars and here is why:

The chicken was so moist and the oil from the pesto made it taste, as I can only describe it as, silky. I think the pairing of pesto and mozzarella works so well because the flavors basically melt together leaving you with a creamy-herby savoriness. I would like to try this chicken and the sauce over a bed of fettucine Alfredo. Could you imagine?! Kelsey made rice to eat with the left overs and she poured the sauce left in the pan over top. Quite possibly the best rice I’ve ever had. Five stars for flavor!”

Serves: 4     Calories: 340 per serving     Time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, if you like to make them bite sized like I do then cut them into bits.
  • 1/2 cup pesto, you can make your own with this recipe here or, if you need to save time, buy a jar of fresh pesto already made (this is usually found by the gourmet pastas in the refrigerated cheese section of your grocery store.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper
  3. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto in a 9×13 baking dish
  4. Lay chicken over the pesto and top chicken with the remaining pesto.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Uncover and sprinkle the mozzarella over the dish. Bake for an additional few minutes until the cheese is melted.
  7. Dish and spoon the hot sauce left in the pan over the chicken.
  8. Enjoy!

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me