Mexican Quinoa

In San Diego there was a fast food restaurant that I sort of fell in love with. The place was called CBW, I’m pretty sure it stands for Crazy Bowls & Wraps, and they serve salads, bowls, and wraps. What I really liked about this place was that they had 3 options for filling. White rice, brown rice, and quinoa(!!). Quinoa is not something that you usually see at a fast food restaurant, but I absolutely love it. It’s a super food because it is a complete protein, high in dietary fiber, magnesium, and iron, and it is a source of calcium. Needless to say, when I saw it on the menu the first time we went there I was pretty excited.

I had 2 favorite menu items that I liked to order and when I saw this Mexican Quinoa on Annie’s Eats last year, it immediately reminded me of one of those items. So I made it for dinner one night and it has quickly become a staple in our meal rotation. It’s quick and easy, filling, and super good for you. Over the year I have made some adaptations and bumped up the veggie content (to more closely match the bowl at CBW). That’s the other great thing about this meal, it’s another one that is versatile. You can adjust the veggies, add extra spices, use different kinds of canned tomatoes. When I photographed this meal I used fire roasted tomatoes and added smoked paprika and a dash of Chipotle chile powder to give it a bit of slow-cooked smokey taste. I love that I can make small adjustments like that so the meal isn’t exactly the same every time I make it (though it has always been delicious!).

 

 

Here are some other delicious, and easy, vegetarian dishes!
Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
Squash and Kale Pizza
Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

Chicken Tamale Pie From Scratch

Having a new kitchen is a lot of fun, but it can also be a little bit of a pain. You know how there are certain items that you just always have in your pantry? Yeah, chances are if you moved across country, and stored you kitchen stuff for over a month, you don’t have those items. This is especially true of condiments. I try and remember the basics when I go to the grocery, but it’s difficult to remember everything that you might like to have on your table at some point. That’s what happened to me as I went to put some delicious Cholula hot sauce on the table to go with this Chicken Tamale Pie. I was shocked to open my refrigerator and NOT find what is usually a staple in my house. Not to worry though, it turns out the Tamale Pie didn’t even need it!

We absolutely loved the flavor that was packed into this dish. It really did remind me of the tamales that I came to love in San Diego. I especially liked the texture of the crust, which was tender and moist, acting like a sponge for the enchilada sauce, but still just a bit crispy around the edges.

Now, I wanted to make each portion from scratch, so it took a little more time than most people want to spend on a weeknight. But, you could easily take some short cuts (like pre-cooked/shredded chicken or canned enchilada sauce) and turn this into a weeknight meal. Also, the enchilada sauce makes more than you will need, so you can throw it in the freezer for next time!

 

Here are some more delicious Mexican Inspired Dishes!

Mexican Lasagna
Barbacoa Beef for Burrito Bowls
Baked Rolled Tacos (Baked Taquitos)
Quinoa Mexican Soup

Creamy Taco Mac

If you browse food blogs at all then there is a good chance you’ve seen this (or a version of this) before. Why has it graced so many food blogs? In short, because it’s amazing. Not amazing in a fine dining kind of way, but in a homey, comforting kind of way. It’s the from-scratch cook’s answer to Hamburger Helper. You can easily throw this meal together on a busy weeknight, but more importantly you can feel good about serving this to your family.

Jesse, bless his heart, has actually been known to request Hamburger Helper from time to time. In order to do my best to indulge him, I’ve made several homemade versions. He says they are all good but this one is the clear winner.

 

Looking for more easy, weeknight dinners? Check these out-

Shells and Cheese with Kielbasa and Peas
Mexican Lasagna
Sloppy Joes
Creamy Shrimp Pasta

 

Barbacoa Beef for Burrito Bowls

I love parties, I love to cook, I love to make cakes, and I love to entertain, so when one of our friends had a birthday recently, it only felt right to throw a party for her! I knew right away that I wanted to make some kind of Western foods. Something new and different for the birthday girl. Thinking about how much she likes spicy food, Mexican food came to mind. I’ve been absolutely CRAVING Chipotle recently, so I’m not surprised that’s where my mind went. :)

With Chipotle on the brain, I came up with party menu plan. Being a little nervous about how my guests react to Mexican food, I thought a buffet style meal would be a safe way to go. That way everyone could take as little or as much of each food as they wanted, and everyone could build their own burrito bowls. I am happy to say the party was a success and the guests devoured the food!

For the bowls I made cilantro-lime rice, black beans, barbacoa beef, and pico de gallo. And because no bowl would be complete without it, I also had freshly grated cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Keep an eye out because next week I’ll be sharing the cake that I made for the party! It’s a pretty one!