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

Slow Cooker Chicken and Quinoa Chili

Even living in a slightly warmer climate, there’s just something about winter that makes me crave hearty, warm, soups and chilis. These warm and hearty dinners are even better when they basically prepare themselves. That’s one of the things I loved about this chili. I literally threw all of the ingredients in my slowcooker and let time do the rest. The other great thing about this chili is that its good for you! Loaded with good for you quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, and corn and have very minimal fat (especially if you top it with nonfat Greek yogurt and low fat cheese!). Oh, and they go perfectly with those Cheddar Jalapeno Drop Biscuits I posted last week!

I was excited when I found this recipe, but of course I had to make a few adjustments. First, I like a bit of smokey spicy taste to my chili, so I replaced the bell pepper with chipotle pepper. Second, I upped the smokey flavor by using fire-roasted tomatoes. If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes (or don’t care for them) you can of course use regular tomatoes, but I really loved the flavor they added. I also cut back just a bit on the chicken stock and added some tomato paste. I wanted a thick chili and I think the result was really great. Finally, I had a huge split chicken breast thawed, so I used that instead of boneless skinless. I’m sure the bones helped to add a little bit of flavor, but to be honest the breast was so tender it just fell away from the bones, and it was kind of a pain making sure that I got all of them out of the thick chili. Next time I’ll probably go the boneless skinless route (and the recipe below will reflect that).

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Summer Sweet Corn Fettuccine

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one really great thing about living in China is the accessibility to all sorts of fresh produce. I’m within walking distance to a wet market with probably 20 stands of nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables. A lot like the farmers markets that take place on the weekends in the summer in the US – except that it’s every day all year long.  Even better are the prices. And the freebies – the girl at my favorite stand won’t let me leave without giving me something (usually green onions and cilantro) for free. 🙂 The corn has been especially delicious lately and it’s been made a lot of appearances at our dinner table.

This Summer Sweet Corn Fettuccine seemed like a perfect use for the corn cobs I came home with a few weekends ago. And I really did love it. I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I initially was going to cut everything in half, but then the sauce didn’t seem like it would be enough for the pasta (even though I was using less pasta) so I added additional milk. So in the end I used less corn than the original recipe, but it honestly seemed like just enough, any more might have been *too* much. As always though, I’ll list the recipe as I made it and link to the original, so it’s your call!