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

Guest Post: Spinach Manicotti with Tomato Cream Sauce

Well, I’ve made it safely back to the U.S.! This week I am in Ohio visiting with family/friends and picking up my kitty cats and next week I will be returning to San Diego to get our new home set-up! As I mentioned last week, because this is such a busy time for me,  I’ve asked a few friends to help me out over the next few weeks. Today, I’m happy to have Krissy, from Dainty Chef, as a guest poster. I could spend hours going through her posts and drooling over her delicious photos, just check out this Apple Cheesecake or these Cinnamon Roll Pancakes or these Sweet Potato Cakes with Black Bean Chipotle Salsa. Yum! And this manicotti is definitely going to the top of my “to-make” list when I get in the new kitchen! Thanks, Krissy!

Hello Sunny Side Up Readers, my name is Krissy and I am the blogger behind Dainty Chef. This is a busy time for Jessica so I told her I could help her out with a guest post, and I am so happy to be here. Last October, I was in the same boat as Jessica, my husband and I were settling on a new house, so now I am returning the favor for her. Over on my blog, I try to post a variety of recipes ranging from sweet to savory, of course the sweet ones have a tendency to outweigh the savory :). Today, I wanted to share with you a quick and easy, but somewhat elegant weeknight meal.

Since I am a teacher, this is still a busy time for me since we are just about a month into a new school year. If things couldn’t get any more hectic, I decided to switch grade levels so that adds a whole new dimension of busy in my life. I moved from fourth grade to second grade and those little guys literally suck out all the energy from me each and every day. The last thing that I feel like doing when coming home from work is cooking a labor intensive meal. That is when I turn to recipes that I know will be delicious, but won’t take much time.  These Spinach Manicotti may look intimidating, but they come together quickly and are easy to make! The reward is a satisfying and healthy dinner for your entire family. We ended up enjoying these for two nights in a row. They were perfect with a glass of wine, salad, and some bread to clean up all that extra sauce! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did and thanks again Jessica for having me!



Mexican Lasagna

I have never understood how people could not like beans. Even as a kid, when my friends would turn their nose up to chili and baked beans I would think, “More for me!” Now that I am adult, I appreciate them even more. Not only are they tasty, they are also perfect for rounding out the proteins in a meatless meal. Even Jesse, who is a meat and potatoes kind of boy, enjoys many of the dishes I make with beans. Sometimes he doesn’t even notice the meat is missing.

This lasagna was another great example of how a meatless meal can be every bit as satisfying and delicious as a meat-full meal. I’ve made this several times now and each time think that I can’t wait to make it again. And, I feel like I say this a lot, but it can also be pretty adaptable to your personal tastes. Sometimes I want it on the spicier side, so I add jalapeno rings and extra cayenne pepper. Other times I want it smokier so I add more cumin (and maybe a pinch of smoked paprika!). Either way, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it!




Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

I belong to a message board where I chat with others who share my love (obsession?) of cooking, baking, and all things food. In fact, lots of those ladies also like to make food, photograph it, and write about it on the internet. For a long time now, many of them have participated in recipe swaps. I’ve really wanted to join in the fun, but with moving, living in a hotel, and traveling, I didn’t think it would be fair to commit to participating and then not being able to hold up my end of the deal. Now that we (finally!) are starting to settle in and things feel normal (well, as normal as they can feel when you live in a country and culture very different from your own!) I can finally play along!

Each recipe swap has a different theme, and usually the blogger submits a specific recipe that fits within the theme. This time, however, it’s Blogger’s Choice style! So we each are assigned a blog and get to choose any recipe. I was assigned Kate’s Recipe Box. I am not super familiar with Kate’s blog, so I spent a good amount of time going through the archives and bookmarking things. In the end, I kept going back to this casserole. Something about it was just calling my name.

Jesse and I were both really happy with my decision. Later in the evening I overheard him talking to his dad on Skype and telling him about the delicious “Mexicanish” dinner I made. Then he said something about chicken which really made me laugh, there is definitely no chicken in this meal. Haha.

I made only a few minor changes to the recipe, using my own Enchilada sauce recipe, and a couple small adjustments to ingredient amounts. I also made Mexicorn (recipe to come) as a side dish and wouldn’t you know, we both just mixed it right in to the casserole. Next time I might consider adding corn right to the dish. All in all, a big win for us!

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

8 oz. dry pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used red and yellow)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix*
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Enchilada sauce, divided (recipe below)
1 cup cheese, divided (Cheddar, Mexican blend, or Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
2 Tbsp cilantro, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
Salt & pepper, to taste
20 tortilla chips (about 2 handfuls), crushed
Sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado, for serving

*The enchilada sauce I use was pretty heavily seasoned, so I only added 1 tablespoon worth of additional seasoning (1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta to al dente, according to directions on box, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, jalapeno, bell peppers, and garlic, saute for 6-7 minutes., or until vegetables start to become tender. Stir in seasonings, black beans, and 1 cup of enchilada sauce, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup of cheese, green onion, and cilantro. Stir until the cheese has melted and the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce. Pour the pasta into the dish, using a spoon to evenly distribute in pan. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce over the pasta, top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips, green onions, and cilantro. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado.

Slightly adapted from Kate’s Recipe Box, originally from Oh She Glows

Enchilada Sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup bell pepper, very finely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp dry parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan heat the vegetable oil and cook the bell pepper until tender. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients from tomato sauce to salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

*I made this sauce the day before I needed (and stored in the fridge until I was ready to use it) making the pasta that much easier to throw together. Bonus, the added day in the fridge gave the flavors lots of time to meld together and enhance.

Source: My mom, as posted previously for Beef Enchiladas