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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Mediterranean Meatball Soup

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This soup is the epitome of comfort. The spices add a distinct warmth while the meatballs and couscous fill you up. It isn’t too heavy which is something I love about this recipe. It’s on the brothy side which is a nice base for the meatballs. It is also one of the best soups I’ve made to reheat. I worried about using couscous because I know that pasta and grains usually suck up the broth and get mushy when put in the fridge to be reheated. This recipe did not do that which was a pleasant surprise. I found this soup to be quite easy to put together, but you do need to use a couple different pots so expect a bit of cleanup. One thing that could turn you off is the spices used in this recipe. I always have these bold spices in my cabinet as a staple but if you don’t the grocery bill could creep up quickly. Do keep in mind though that these spices last a long time and there are so many lovely recipes you can add them to. They are definitely a kitchen investment but I think it’s worth it.

Serves: 8-12     Calories: approximately 360 per serving     Time: approximately 1 hour

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, the more lean the better

Ingredients for Soup

  • 8 oz package of Israeli pearl couscous
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line your baking dish with foil or parchment paper.
  3. In a marge bowl add all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix thoroughly.
  4. Form small-ish meatballs with about 1 tsp of the mixture and put on the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until browned.
  6. While meatballs are in the oven prepare the couscous according to the package.
  7. In a large pot heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic and zucchini and saute until fragrant.
  8. Add vegetable broth, 2 cups of water, turmeric, curry and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and add in the meatballs and couscous. Simmer for 10 minutes and add salt/pepper to taste.
  9. Before serving toss in the chopped parsley.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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

Ry-Thai Baked Chicken and Peanut Sauce – ★★★★★

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Last week I attempted to make Thai chicken wings but being who I am I bought the absolute wrong kind of chicken for the recipe. Anyone else out there try to make chicken wings with chicken drumsticks? No? Only me? Thought so… Needless to say I had a TON of peanut sauce left over from my attempted chicken wings. My neighbor Ryan suggested that I make some homemade chicken nuggets to dunk in the peanut sauce. I was completely sold on the idea and now I have this recipe to give you guys 🙂 I have a few breaded chicken recipes on here so I used my previous knowledge to craft this recipe. Don’t feel like you are bound to this exact recipe though. Play with the spices and see if you can make something even better! I know that when I make this again it won’t be exactly true to the recipe because I like to try different spices. Naturally this was a hit. Perry even went so far as to say he liked the chicken by itself also. This is huge coming from a guy who doesn’t usually like chicken. He gave full stars and here is why:

“Kelsey’s peanut sauce is a favorite of mine. I could eat spoonfuls of it that is how much I like it. Even if the chicken sucked this recipe would have gotten five stars for the peanut sauce alone. Luckily though the chicken was just as good as the peanut sauce on its own. It was really crunchy and the breading had a lot of flavor. I’m not sure what spices she used but I could definitely taste paprika and it was an awesome smoky addition. Full stars!”

Serves: 5          Calories: 223/2 pieces of chicken + 50 calories/1 tbsp peanut sauce    Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients for Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • If you like it spicy add some siracha 

Ingredients for Chicken:

  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
  • cooking spray
  • 1.5 cups panko crumbs
  • 1.5 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1.5 tbsp paprika (I used sweet hungarian)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • pinch of red chili flakes (if you like heat)
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray
  3. Mix together panko and spices in a large bowl
  4. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl
  5. Clean and trim chicken
  6. One piece at a time, dip in egg then roll in panko mixture and set on baking sheet 
  7. Complete until all the chicken is coated and bake for 15 minutes
  8. While baking the chicken put all peanut sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth
  9. Serve chicken hot with peanut sauce and enjoy!
  10. ***You will have a TON of peanut sauce left over so freeze it for later use or cook up some Chicken Satay 

*Photo and recipe are originals belonging to me. Feel free to post recipe on your own blog but please link to my blog for credit.

Moroccan Chicken Kebobs – ★★★★★

ImagePerry is sitting here as I write trying to explain to me that his 10 minutes of involvement with this recipe made it a five star recipe. While I’ll never admit it to him he may be right I’ll secretly tell you all since he never reads the description. Cooking these babies to perfection is key. Perry nailed it with his 5 minutes per side on our dinky little grille. How did I survive before him 🙂 The chicken is fantastic with the perfect balance of savory and sweet. The veggies were perfectly salted and had the best tender/crisp texture. Even my picky three-year-old grabbed a skewer or two and went to town. Perry gave these five stars and here is why:

“These tasty morsels were cooked to perfection by me deeming them worthy of five stars. For the sake of my marriage I guess I better give Kelsey some credit by saying she did an exceptional job marinating the chicken and vegetable with exotic and authentic african spices. (can you tell he is fishing for brownie points?)”

Calories: 50/kebob       Serves: 15 kebobs       Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice OR ground cloves
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red onion, sliced into squared 
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before 

Directions

  1. in a mixing bowl combine all the herbs and seasonings
  2. Rinse and cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and put them into the bowl. Toss chicken cubes with herbs and spices to coat. Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl toss onions and peppers with oil, sat and pepper. 
  4. Put together the kebobs by alternating chicken, onion and peppers 
  5. Heat grill to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes on each side. 
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original taken by me

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

 

Garden Fresh Guacamole – ★★★★★

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Last night we had friends over for a Mexican inspired dinner. If you follow my blog you know I’ve gotten into Asian and Indian cuisines so it was really nice to step back into SoCal and whip up a nice south of the border dinner. We started with two variations of fresh guacamole, hot (mild) and regular. The original recipe called for half of a jalapeño but instead I threw a whole one (with seeds) into one batch and left jalapeño completely out of the second batch. Six adults went through one whole batch so I think it’s safe to say it was a hit! Perry gave five stars and this is why:

“I hate it when you order guacamole in Mexico and the waiter brings back a bowl of chopped onion and tomato with very little bit of avocado. I understand that avocado is expensive, but isn’t it the core ingredient of guacamole? Kelsey’s guac was the opposite as it was chock full of avocado making it really creamy and fresh tasting. The hot guac could have been a little spicier but it was tasty nonetheless. Full stars for a great appetizer”

 

Assembly time: 20 minutes      Set time: 1 hour at room temperature

HOT Batch Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved pitted and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Regular Batch Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved pitted and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. Decide if you want hot or regular guacamole and use that ingredient list above.
  2. In a large bowl place avocado and lime juice toss to coat. 
  3. Add spices and with a potato masher mush it up.
  4. Gently fold in the onion, jalapeño (if you are making it hot), tomato, cilantro and garlic.
  5. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving
  6. Enjoy!

*Original recipe found at http://www.foodnetwork.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/

Curried Cashews and Chickpeas with Almond Asparagus

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Yesterday we were out almost the whole day which meant we had fast food for breakfast and lunch. By the time dinner came we felt so gross after eating all the crap that we decided to cook on the lighter side. These recipes are actually side dishes but since we are trying to eat smaller portions it all works out. These recipes make just enough to have a serving for dinner and a serving for lunch the next day. The curry dish is rich and creamy with a greek yogurt topping and the asparagus is simple enough to not take away from the curry. These two recipes work well together without making me feel guilty after eating 🙂 I will post the recipes separately if you just want to make them as a side dish.  Perry gave the curry 5 stars and the asparagus 4 stars. Here is why:

It is no secret that we love curry. This recipe is a lot different though because Kels did not use the huge chunks of potato, chicken and carrot like she usually does. I like her traditional “stewy” curry because it is what I am used to, but I think I like this one better because it is crunchy and more creamy. It isn’t as heavy as usual either which I like because I don’t feel so huge after I eat. The asparagus was good but not as good as the curry. I think it had too much salt and not enough orange so unless Kelsey notes in the recipe I would cut the salt in half and double the orange juice. Overall the meal was delicious and we managed to keep leftovers to enjoy tomorrow for lunch.”

Serves: 4         Calories: 344

Ingredients:

For Asparagus:

  • 2 lbs asparagus, washed trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice (Perry didn’t think this was enough orange juice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (Perry thought this was too much salt)

For Curry: 

  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (15oz) can of no salt added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted cashews, you can chop these if you like but I used them whole
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tbsp fat-free plain greek yogurt

Directions for Asparagus (25 minutes) :

  1. In a large pot bring 1 inch of water to a rolling boil. Add the asparagus and cook for two minutes or until bright green. Drain and pat dry
  2. Toast nuts in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often as not to burn them for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a dish and wipe out the skillet.
  3. Coat the same skillet with cooking spray and add the asparagus and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for two minutes or until garlic starts to lightly brown. Stirring occasionally.
  4. Add orange juice and salt, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
  5. Sprinkle toasted nuts over asparagus and serve.  

For the Curry (20 minutes): 

  1. Whisk cornstarch in a small bowl with vegetable broth to dissolve. Set aside
  2. Combine oil, onion, curry powder, salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. 
  3. Add broth and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add chickpeas and cashews. Simmer for 5 minutes allowing the flavors to blend. Fold in the parsley.
  4. Serve with a spoonful of greek yogurt.

*Photo is an original belonging to me

** Original recipe belongs to The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook