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

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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Seven Clove Garlic Green Beans

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This is my all time favorite gathering of ingredients. Crunchy green beans surrounded by soft buttery garlic and topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, oh my word. I could eat it every day with every meal that is how much I love this stuff. It goes with just about anything, but I wouldn’t serve them with a main dish that is also heavy in garlic. Don’t get me wrong, I love garlic but love getting kisses goodnight from my babies even more 🙂

Serves: 4     Calories: 93 per serving    Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 7 cloves of garlic (or more, I don’t judge), chopped fine
  • Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium high heat
  2. Once butter is melted add green beans into pan and stir to coat the beans with butter.
  3. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. I like my green beans a bit crunchy so I don’t allow them the time to go soft. I let them cook covered for about 7 minutes stirring occasionally. If you want them softer you’ll have to play with time but I estimate it would take 10 minutes or so.
  4. Once green beans reach your preferred texture, add garlic to pan and stir until caramelized. Do this over low heat because you are looking to caramelize not burn the garlic.
  5. Right before you serve the green beans sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese  and salt and pepper.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Thai Basil Beef “Fake-Out-Take-Out”

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It only took one bite to know that this recipe would become a regular in my kitchen. Traditionally Thai dishes don’t use ground beef but since I have two very busy little boys I needed to make it easy and affordable. Ground beef or beef strips, this recipe is a show stopper. The flavor is savory, spicy, and sweet. I think the fresh basil is really the highlight here. It adds a crisp fresh element that really blew us away. We spooned the beef over a mound of brown rice that added a nice chewy texture. We declared that from now on we will be doubling this recipe because two dinners just isn’t enough!

Serves: 5     Calories: 423 per serving (includes 1 cup brown rice)     Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, I used Canola
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 cups basil, I used 1.5 cups of basil from my garden
  • Brown rice, cooked (optional)

Directions:

  1. If you’re serving with rice start cooking your rice now.
  2. Crush garlic with the flat blade of a knife. If you have a mortar and pestle you can use them to make a paste with the crushed garlic, pepper flakes and salt. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle continue using the flat blade of a knife and crush together the garlic, pepper flakes and salt to make a garlic-y paste. Once you’ve made the paste let it sit for a minute or two to allow the flavors to meld together.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and cook the garlic paste with shallot for a minute over medium heat.
  4. Add the beef and continue to cook until just browned, approximately 6 minutes
  5. Stir in your bell peppers. I like to leave my bell peppers still a little crunchy so I immediately moved onto the next step. If you like your bell pepper more soft allow them to cook for a minute or two before moving onto the next step.
  6. Add the soy sauce and brown sugar. Cook for a minute or two longer
  7. Add the basil and cook until just wilted, about a minute.
  8. Spoon beef over a bed of rice or other steamed veggies. OR eat it straight out of the pan, I will not confirm nor deny that I was tempted..
  9. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe is adapted from http://www.littlespicejar.com which is an adorable food blog with many many more delicious recipes!

Roasted Asparagus with Feta – ★★★★★

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I take pride in trying to feed my family healthy dinners, but I seriously need to up the ante on how often we eat veggies. That being said, I am trying to include one dinner a week that is 100% veggie based. The problem with this is that there are not many recipes out there that take a vegetable and stick to some sort of nutritional value AND pack in some flavor. All the recipes that look good are either smothered in a brown sugar glaze or have so much salt I would end up a bloated mess for about a week. This recipe surfaced from a google search that led me to www.gonnawantseconds.com, a beautiful recipe site that had me salivating by the time I was done looking through all the yummy meals. This recipe is a dream because it so easy to make and the asparagus tips literally melt in your mouth. You start by making a garlic and herb infused oil that I would probably drink if I knew no one would judge me for it. I think this oil would go great on roasted green beans, brussel sprouts, or basically any savory veggie you can get your hands on. I know that is what I plan to do to keep this veggie train in motion. The feta is an awesome creamy touch that Perry really enjoyed. He gave 5 stars and here is why:

” This one did not disappoint. The asparagus had a”melt in your mouth” texture at the tips but kept a tender/crisp texture towards the bottom. My favorite part was the feta. The crumbles that fell on the pan came out melted but when it cooled they were like parmesan crisps. I would describe the flavor as refreshing because it has a nice light lemony taste. I give it five stars”

Serves: 4-6      Calories: 157 per serving     Time: 45

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fresh asparagus, washed and woody roots trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 14 cloves of garlic, minced (original recipe only calls for 6 but I love garlic… Don’t judge me….)
  • 1.5 tsp lemon zest
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (I used sun-dried tomato and herb feta because… why not?)
  • 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Start by prepping your ingredients. If you’re using 14 cloves of garlic, which I totally recommend, this could take a few extra minutes.
  2. In a saucepan heat oil, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and pepper flakes over low heat stirring occasionally until garlic starts to turn a golden brown (approx.. 5 minutes). Remove the saucepan from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. In a large mixing bowl toss the asparagus with garlic and herb oil.
  5. Lay the asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet. Top with oil left in the mixing bowl and 1/2 cup of feta.
  6. Roast for approximately 15 minutes. Remove and spritz with lemon juice.
  7. Serve immediately

*Original recipe found at http://www.gonnawantseconds.com/

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili – ★★★★★

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After being on vacation for 10 days it is now time to get back into healthy cooking/eating mode. We went all vegetarian this week and I have to admit I’m feeling pretty good about it. Perry requested that I try to make something that isn’t just vegetables on a plate, and what better way to do that then a veggie chili. The base of this recipe came from Betty Crocker, but I really built on her original recipe. I’m sure her chili is great but this recipe is better 🙂 We’ve packed this chili with three different kinds of beans to not only give an awesome taste and texture but to also increase our protein and fiber intake. To add a smokey flavor to our chili we used fire roasted diced tomatoes and it was absolutely delectable! Perry gave five stars and here is why:

My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook. I could eat seconds and thirds of everything she makes, but that comes at a cost. After staying with my in-laws for over a week the notches on my belt buckle started to get more and more loose. It is a new year so I wanted Kels to make meals less rich and more nutritious. She nailed this one on the head. My favorite thing about this chili is the garbanzo beans. They are a pleasant camouflaged surprise, and honestly they are not a bean I would expect to find in chili. The broth was nice and thick and the veggies were cooked to perfection. All the flavors and spices blended extremely well and I’m half tempted to have a bowl for breakfast. Five stars for flavor, nutrition, and garbanzo beans.”

Serves: 6+     Calories: 387 per 3/4 cup serving     Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (if you like spice leave in the seeds.. Also Betty Crocker suggests serrano chiles if you do not like jalapeño peppers.)
  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans (I used dark red), drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp kosher salt (+more to taste)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • If you want to have a thick broth have some flour on hand, or even better masa flour 🙂
  • Optional: Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro to top

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic and jalapeños. Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are tender. Stir frequently as to not burn.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes +juice, water, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cut in frozen corn and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer once more and cook uncovered for 5 minutes
  4. OPTIONAL: If your broth is too watery for your liking you’ll want to follow this step.  Scoop about a cup of broth from the saucepan. To that cup of broth add 1-2 tbsp of flour and mix until combined. Once combined add the broth back to the saucepan and mix it into the chili. Repeat this process until you find the texture you like. I had some masa flour on hand, which in case you are unaware is the flour used to make tamales. I used this instead of regular flour and it added an even more earthy corn taste that was perfect for this chili! Add additional salt to taste.
  5. Top with you favorite extras and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Betty Crocker inspired the base and the recipe for her chili can be found at http://www.bettycrocker.com/

Korean Beef in Lettuce Leaves – ★★★★✩

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Many years ago I fell in love with chicken lettuce wraps from P.F Changs so when I saw this recipe I had to try it. The flavor was great and not overdone but I would cut the oil down to about half because the sauce seemed too liquid-y and made these extra messy to eat. The reason Perry gave this recipe 4 stars shocked me. I’ve turned him into a chicken lover! Here is his review:

“Like Kelsey I’ve always enjoyed chicken lettuce wraps. I was intrigued by this recipe because I have to limit my red meat intake (cholesterol) so it was going to be a little treat for me. The flavor is great, but I had such high expectations having chicken lettuce wraps for so many years. I would much rather have this recipe made with chicken instead of beef. I never in a million years would have thought I’d choose chicken over beef but it is true. I give this recipe 4 stars with the potential of 5 stars when we try it with chicken.”

Serves: 4 (3 wraps per serving)      Calories: 379        Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 2 tbsp reduced- sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil (I would cut this in half)
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 8 scallions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 12 lettuce leaves (I have a handy video to share which will help you in making lettuce cups.)

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the marmalade, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, scallions, carrots and pepper for 5-7 minutes or until beef is browned and cooked through. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until well blended.
  3. If you are clueless how to make perfect lettuce cups like I was until last night. I suggest watching this instructional youtube video as it worked very well for me http://youtu.be/xDBxUNOkLi0
  4. Spoon the beef mixture into lettuce cups and serve!
  5. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Recipe is originally printed in the “Flat Belly Diet Cookbook”