Quinoa casserole: inspired by Betty

To be fair my 1978 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook has no mention of quinoa anywhere in it. Not that quinoa was not known but it was not the superfood in popular cooking at that time. We older people struggled to learn how to pronounce the word.

I was actually looking for a recipe for sausages and rice that did not have tomatoes. We had been eating out at an Italian restaurant weekly and I wanted something differently seasoned. I also wanted something with vegetables. The following meal is inspired by Betty’s Rice and Corn Bake, page 109. That recipe is basically rice, corn, cheese, eggs, and milk. Mine is a little different.

  • 2/3rd pound chicken sausage link cut into 1 inch pieces and sauted. The sausage I had was flavored with spinach.
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables; I thought about using only corn but I like color in my foods.
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa; I had thought about using brown rice; maybe next time.
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Cook the quinoa as directed by the package. I cooked what I thought was the amount for 4 servings: 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cook the sausages in a bit of oil. Heat oven to 350 F.

Now combine. First mix the vegetables, quinoa, and sausages in greased 2 quart casserole or baking pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour this over the food in the pan. Place slices of tomato on top. Now bake for 40-45 minutes.

This made for a tasty and filling dinner. Hubby and I like to have “dinner in a bowl”. I deliberately arranged the tomato slices to make four servings. This was a lot of food and I wanted to insure two meals.

After thoughts: This is a lot of quinoa. I should have cooked 1/2 the amount. Actually I think brown rice may be a better choice for more appealing texture.

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Stuffed peppers, my version

So, I asked Hubby what should we do with the two green peppers languishing away in our fridge’s produce drawer. Mind you, I have stored these in there in one of those mesh produce bags so they are doing just fine. I forgot to take them camping with us so now I feel they need to be used. Hubby suggested stuffed peppers. I’m thinking I have not made stuffed peppers but once in my life and Betty Crocker had me blanch the peppers before stuffing. What a hassle that was! But I figure I would give it my best shot anyway. I looked up a more modern recipe and found that blanching was not essential. Yay! As I am making these for our dinner one weeknight after work, I begin to add all sorts of ingredients. It becomes another version of Southwestern Quinoa salad that I had just thrown together. There are differences so just bear with me. Thanks!

  • 4 small yellow peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup ground beef (I confess, I diced up one frozen pre-formed burger pattie.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (I again used the boil-in-bag kind.)
  • 2 medium sized green bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • and don’t forget the cheese: 1/2 cup shredded
  • olive oil for sauteing

Chop and dice the onion and yellow peppers. Saute these in a bit of olive oil until nicely aromatic. Also add the garlic. (I forgot garlic until later, oops!) Brown the ground beef in this concoction and season with cayenne and black pepper. Get that all nicely browned together. Oh, by this time I am remembering to cut the tops off the green peppers and dice the tops and add this to the skillet. Use a large-ish skillet. Add the corn and stir this around for a bit of a saute as well.

Meanwhile cook your quinoa as directed on the package. Drain or fluff when appropriate. Add the can of tomatoes and the can of drained black beans. Taste for additional seasoning. Add the quinoa and stir all together. This in itself would make a nice meal. But I’ve got these two bell peppers with the tops cut off and the membranes removed sitting like wobbly cups on my cutting board, so let the stuffing begin.

I have semi pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees F. I’m taking a big chance here and hoping this won’t undo the nice cooler house temperature that the cooler weather has brought us over the past two days. My kitchen is not air-conditioned. The small unit in the dining room does not reach it well so we close it off so the dog can stay cool enough at night to breathe. But I digress.

Find a suitably sized baking or casserole dish (this one is 1 1/2 quarts). Spoon the filling into the two peppers. Then spoon the remaining filling all around. Now top each pepper with cheese. Truth be told the only shredded cheese we had was a “pizza blend”, but cheese is cheese! Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then uncover the dish and bake another 15 minutes. The peppers will be al dente but that is the way we like them.

Enjoy! The leftover filling will make a good take-to-work lunch.

Southwestern Quinoa salad

I threw a side dish together one evening after work. I thought we needed something in addition to whatever we were eating from the grill. I also had this spare cob of corn. Most likely the main dish was grilled chicken with a dry rub and finished with sauce but it could have been cheeseburgers or grilled Italian sausages. This dish turned out very tasty and the leftovers were perfect to take to work for lunch.

 

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • chop a small onion
  • dice a few small peppers
  • blanch one ear of corn; cut kernels from cob
  • chop a few jalapeno peppers, as many as you like for “heat”
  • cook your quinoa; I found this “boil in bag” recently and think it is a fabulous thing. Cook as much for how many servings you would like.
  • dice some grape tomatoes
  • make a lemon or lime vinegrette
  • chop some cilantro

Mix all of the above together. Initially it is tepid due to the warmth of the cooked quinoa but this does not detract from the deliciousness. Leftovers are cold and are just as delicious.

 

 

Supper: Quinoa and vegetables

Do you ever have those days when you think about eating healthy, exercising more, etc.? I spend a lot of time thinking about what food to make that is healthy and will help us improve our cardiac conditions and cholesterol numbers, lose a little weight, and feel better overall. I think about brown rice, quinoa, chia seeds (what am I going to do with those chia seeds in my pantry?). I think I may even engage in fantasy thinking in that if I think hard enough about losing weight, I could actually lose some poundage. And then I watch the Great British Baking Show, get a new Cook’s magazine, and see interesting looking baked goods in my FB feed. What to do?

In my pantry there is healthy food. I found this fabulous quinoa/rice mixture that cooks up in ten minutes. Yay! No rinsing required.  I figured I should make a casserole or salad of some sort. I found two fully cooked turkey drumsticks in my freezer and some homemade broth. I have a package of frozen tri-color peppers and onions. I could assemble this all together and that would be supper.

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Ingredients are approximate amounts: Serves 4

  • 4 servings quinoa/rice mixture (made by Minute Rice), cooked according to package
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup mixed peppers and onion strips
  • 1 cup broth
  • about 2 cups diced cooked turkey from two drumsticks
  • 1 cup frozen peas, added at the last because it looked like it needed more vegetable and more color

Easy directions: saute peppers and onions in the olive oil in large enough skillet to accommodate the quinoa mixture as well. Stir in the turkey then add the cooked grains and 1/2 the broth. Stir to mix on low heat. Add the frozen peas and the rest of the broth; stir on the heat for a few minutes then turn off heat, cover skillet and let sit for 5-10 minutes. I let it sit to steam the peas a bit and because Hubby wasn’t home yet.

If your broth is seasoned that might be sufficient with some salt and pepper. I added a pinch of tandoori seasoning but that was not adequate. Hubby ate his with a healthy sprinkling of Worcestershire Sauce. Me, too, and that did the trick.

This is a basic casserole with meat and grains and vegetables. Any of these three ingredients can be changed up at whim and/or depending on what you have on hand. My mother would throw all the leftovers in one pot and cook them…usually she would over-cook them. Sorry, Mom, but that’s the way it was!

What we ate this past week…

This past week I had not been terribly inspired to try new recipes or cook elaborate meals. But we do go to work, Hubby and I, and come home and need to eat. For the most part I am trying to eat better, and less, for health and well-being. I usually get two to three days into the week and BOOM!, I fall back into eating too much or having that extra glass of wine or sweet thing that sets off the indigestion or sets back the good efforts I have made.

That said, I have been making protein shakes for breakfast and taking a decent lunch with plenty of fruit for snacking at work. I have a bag of string cheese in the small fridge in my office for a healthy snack mid-morning. One morning I cooked up an egg with a piece of ham with a bit of frozen spinach for color. It took just a few minutes so I am not sure why I don’t do that more often.

Another hallmark of the week is that I have logged 10000 steps one of the days! I did this by walking to work (7/10th of a mile) and walking a mile on the treadmill during my lunch break. AND carrying my iPhone on my person to track the steps. A Fitbit would be easier but it’s just an extra bit of technology that duplicates the App on the smartphone. I do not walk to work everyday because I need to give my ankle a chance to rest and sometimes because I am just plain lazy!

So what did we eat?

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Monday was barbequed chicken baked in the oven. I used my homemade sauce (It’s different every time!). I baked the chicken and poured on the sauce after 30 minutes and then set it under the broiler after 20 more minutes to brown them. I served this with a spinach/romaine salad topped with strawberries, toasted pecans, and feta cheese, dressed with homemade Green Goddess dressing.

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Tuesday was a quinoa salad made with the two leftover pieces of chicken from Monday’s dinner. I found a fabulous quick cook quinoa/wild rice mix that cooks up in 10 minutes and there are no additives or spice mix in it. This is the multi-grain crunch salad from the back of the box. I forgot to use chicken broth to cook the quinoa and just used water. I did not measure the vegetables but added plenty along with my own addition of Craisins and walnuts.

  • make the equivalent of 1 1/2 to 2 cups quinoa/rice/grain mixture
  • add 1 cup cooked diced or shredded chicken
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots (I used prepared shredded carrots and chopped them up further.)
  • 1/3 cup diced celery (I used 2 large stalks)
  • 1/3 cup diced red pepper (I used 6 mini peppers of varying sizes and added 2 yellow ones as well.)
  • 1/3 cup citrus vinaigrette (I made about 1/2 cup using 1/4 cup of the Persian Lime olive oil and the juice of one lemon. I chopped up fresh chives and thyme and parsley to make a few tablespoons, add a bit of kosher salt and pepper.)
  • 1/4 up Craisins and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cook the quinoa, chop the vegetables, add the chicken, and toss with the dressing. Super simple and super delicious. And super good for you! I made double and was able to take some for lunches. It can be served warm or cold.

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Wednesday was a “BAD DAY”: Super Nachos! But served with guacamole for the vegetable! For these nachos I browned about 1/2 pound of ground beef seasoning it with 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, a pinch of salt, and a few drops of hot sauce. Pile on cheese and jalapeno peppers and bake for 10 minutes. I make guacamole with garlic powder, diced tomato, lime juice, and a spoonful or so of sour cream. Oh yeah, don’t forget the avocado!

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Thursday was a re-run of the quinoa salad. For this supper I put fresh baby spinach leaves in the bowls and then piled on the salad. This is a great salad. One could switch it up and use rice or lentils or barley instead of quinoa for a nice summer supper.

Friday was the start of a camping weekend. We had our usual Subway grinders for Friday with chips. This lets us get to the campground, set up, and then have a supper ready to eat. For Saturday I had par-cooked (read that as “boiled the heck out of”) chicken leg quarters that we would finish cooking on the grill. I forgot that they were on the stove so they were more than par-cooked and turned out a tad dry but good enough with a Texas BBQ Rub. I did end up with a nice rich chicken stock out of it though! We made a foil packet of potatoes with butter, onions, and cheese as well.The best meal of the camping was the cheeseburgers for lunch. But here is a pic of our dinners:

So now it’s Sunday and were home again. What to cook this week?

Quinoa 2

Continuing on my quest to use interesting ingredients and healthy ones I have made another quinoa dish. This one I found on food.com: http://www.food.com/recipe/southwestern-quinoa-vegetable-casserole-304705

This is an easy to prepare recipe as it is mostly assembly. I added ground beef and an onion so that had to be browned before putting it all in the dish to bake. I actually followed the directions exactly but for that. Sort of.

  • 1/2 pound ground beef, browned
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used the store brand; the name brand is Rotel.)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained (I forgot to buy black beans most recently so I substituted a can of pinto beans, drained.)
  • 1/4 cup sliced jalapeno
  • 1/2 can vegetable broth (I used chicken broth because that is what I had on hand.)
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for serving

I had only whole cumin seeds and whole coriander in my spice cabinet so I got to use the mortar and pestle that my son brought back from his international travels. I believe he brought this from Morocco. So these are “roughly ground”!

Preheat oven to 400 F. After browning the onion and beef, all the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream are mixed together in a 2 quart casserole.

quinoa 2 007Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and stir. (I was not sure if this meant to remove the foil for the next cooking segment, so I covered the dish again. Bake for another 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

At the 30 minute mark the quinoa still looks quite small and raw. But the next 20 minutes finished cooking it perfectly.

After the 20 minutes remove the foil, cover with cheese and broil until cheese is melted about 1-2 minutes only. Serve with sour cream.

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I served this with tortilla chips to add some crunch. This makes four servings so I will have leftovers. I’ll serve the leftovers with a big salad and freshly baked cornbread or rolls.

Note: This dish has heat. It is very spicy. I might leave out the jalapeno next time or use a can of regular diced tomatoes without the chilies.

Quinoa 1

sewing 007My sewing room has been feeling neglected so I spent time in there instead of browsing recipe books. But dinner is needed and I was thinking of something simple like bacon and eggs when I took a break and looked through my “recipes of interest” notebook. And there I found a recipe for a quinoa and green bean salad. In fact I found two variations. I say to myself “Self, there are green beans in need of fixing! And there is quinoa in the pantry.” Although salads can be nice for lunch and can work for suppers, I think hubby would like more substance. How about adding the bacon and eggs? And serving it warm?

sewing 008I put together what I want to use. Servings for two. (You can double the quinoa and the beans if you want to serve four.)

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • olive oil for the skillet
  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley, plus sprinkle for garnish
  • 3-4 eggs, poached

sewing 009First make the dressing: whisk together the vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, and parsley.

Put a bit of olive oil in a skillet to saute the garlic and onion. I then added the diced up bacon. Oh boy does this make the kitchen smell good! When the bacon is cooked I added the quinoa and stirred it for one minute. I am adding the amount of water per the quinoa package directions, so this is 1 cup. This is then brought to a boil, the skillet is covered, the heat lowered and let simmer for 15 minutes or per the quinoa package directions.

Meanwhile blanch the green beans just for a few minutes until bright green. (Do these look brighter green?) They should be al dente.

After the quinoa has been cooked per package instructions and let sit for 5-10 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid, stir in the green beans and the dressing. Keep this warm.

Now to poach the eggs. I have not really studied how best to do poached eggs. I think I read somewhere to put a little vinegar in the water but I am not sure. I bring about a half inch of water to a boil in a skillet. Then I slowly pour each egg into the water. I cover the pan and wait for the whites to solidify. How did I do?

Scoop the quinoa mixture into serving bowls and carefully place an egg or two on top.

Quinoa is one of those super foods that is being touted as something we all should eat. It provides protein. fiber, and essential vitamins and other nutrients. I have some other recipes I plan to try out in hopes to put this in our diet. Stay tuned.