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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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

Inside Out Cabbage Roll Soup – Crockpot

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I’m late to the “get bikini ready” party. It is the end of June and I’m just now starting to worry about eating healthier, exercising more and ultimately looking decent this summer. Better late than never I always say! I was unsure of this soup at first because I am not a huge fan of cabbage unless it is in colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day. However I needed something to start me off right and everyone raves over cabbage soup. I have to say this recipe took me by surprise. It had a great flavor that was not overpowered by the cabbage. Also, my apartment did not stink as the cabbage cooked either which was a fear of mine. I was pleased with how easy and tasty this recipe ended up being. We had many meals, lunches and dinners, out of one batch. This recipe will make it into our soup rotation for sure! The original recipe can be found at http://www.sugarfreemom.com, but I did modify the ingredients a bit. I halved the amount of ground beef and upped the amount of veggies.

Serves: 9-12     Calories: about 290 per serving    Time: 3.5 hours on high or 6.5 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 16 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, riced
  • 8 cups of beef broth
  • 1 large head of cabbage

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil over high heat and sauté until soft.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant
  3. Add the seasonings, cauliflower and marinara sauce to the beef and mix until combined.
  4. Add beef broth, cabbage, and beef mixture to your crockpot. Stir until combined
  5. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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

Hearty Hot and Sour Soup

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My gosh this soup has so much flavor! With this recipe you’ll expect tons of veggies, tons of spice and such a savory broth. Don’t be surprised to find yourself slurping up every last drop of this stuff. I had started getting tired of the traditional vegetable soups. You know the usual culprits – barley vegetable, summer vegetable, root veggie puree. We desperately needed something different so I turned to my recipe companion, Pintrest. I fall so hard into the Pintrest web but have climbed my way out with some killer recipes, this being one of them. The original recipe does include tofu and mushrooms, but there are just some things I cannot stomach and those are two of them. So if you want to make this soup even more hearty then you will want to visit the original recipe posted at http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com.

Serves: 8     Calories: 200/serving     Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (Add an extra one if you really like it hot)
  • 1lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
  • 1 small savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 2.5 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 6-8 leaves bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onions, ginger, and jalapenos Cook for a few minutes, stirring.
  2. Add in the carrots, and cabbage. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, or until cabbage starts to wilt. Add in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, cold water, and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini, and bell peppers to the pot. Simmer until the veggies are tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the soy sauce mixture and stir until the soup thickens, about 8 minutes. Add in the bok choy and tomatoes and bring the soup back to a simmer. Stir in the sesame oil.
  5. Dish and Enjoy!

*Photo and video are originals belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com

Spinach Muffins

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In trying to get Chance to eat fruits and vegetables I thought it would be genius to essentially lie to him and tell him I dyed these muffins with food coloring. He ate the first one with no problems but the second time around he started noticing the flecks of green. Looks like I need to be more sneaky with this one. Nonetheless my husband and I are loving these and who knows maybe I’ll get my picky little monster to try them once more. You cannot taste the spinach at all and I think this is because the vanilla extract masks the veggie-ish smell overpowering it with sweet vanilla. I thought these tasted like cupcakes so I’ll enjoy every last one!

Makes: 12 muffins    Calories: 192/muffin    Prep time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 20 minutes per batch

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of spinach, pureed (We buy fresh spinach by the “bunch at our store. If this is not an option for you, a bunch is equal to about 2 very large handfuls)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a blender or food processor puree spinach.
  3. Add the rest of your wet ingredients to the blender/food processor and blend until smooth
  4. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and stir it all together.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. You don’t want to over mix because that will change the texture of your muffins.
  6. Spray a muffin tin/mold with cooking spray or full muffin tin with muffin papers and pour batter 2/3 of the way into each cup.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes and do a toothpick check. If the toothpick comes out clean you’re all set but if it comes out with batter stuck to it you need to add a few minutes of bake time. Repeat toothpick test until it comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy warm with butter 🙂

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.messforless.net

Crispy Oven Fried Green Beans – ★★★★★

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This is a really fun and delicious way to dress up green beans. I absolutely loved the tender crisp result. Let’s be honest, you cannot really go wrong with parmesan crusted anything! The only problem is that these were so good that we had none left over. The recipe is super easy and took very little time to prepare so I’ve got a feeling this will be my standard weeknight side dish. Delicious! Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

“These beans are awesome! I think they would make for a good appetizer with a dipping sauce. They almost didn’t make it to our plates because when Kelsey pulled them out of the oven we automatically started snacking on them while we waited for the chicken she was also making to come out of the oven. The parmesan was really browned in some spots giving off an almost smoky taste. I think the next time Kelsey makes these I’ll suggest she does a couple of pounds worth of greens.

Serves4-6     Calories:130 per serving     Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, preferably extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces fresh green beans
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine oil, garlic, egg, garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Toss green beans into the mixture, coating them well.
  4. Add parmesan cheese and continue to toss gently until coated.
  5. Lay the green beans out evenly on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Broil for an additional 2 minutes or until crispy.
  8. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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

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