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

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

 

Barbeque Pork Tenderloin Wraps

Years and years ago my family would go to an annual wine festival in Ohio. I was a little too young to sample the wine, but there were other fun festival type things to keep my occupied. And there was the food. Not your typical FRY EVERYTHING festival food, but good food!

One of the wine festival foods that really stuck with my family were the pork tenderloin wraps. Sweet goodness these are filling and fresh. Juicy tender pork with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheddar cheese, barbeque sauce, and ranch dressing, all wrapped in a warm fresh tortilla. Yes, you read that right, barbeque sauce AND ranch dressing. Don’t be scared. It sounds weird, but it works.

My family loved these wraps so much that they became a regular at summertime family gatherings. In fact, these wraps were sort of a pork game changer for me. At one point in my life I didn’t think I liked pork. Then we started having these regularly and I couldn’t wait for my mom to say we were going to my aunt’s house for pork tenderloin wraps. I still love them and I hope you will too!

P.S. These tortillas were homemade, too! Recipe coming soon!

 

Here are a few of my other favorite pork recipes!

Island Pork Tenderloin
Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin
Shanghai Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage
Coffee Chipotle Pulled Pork

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been craving tangy dressing a lot lately. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been gravitating towards lighter, springy-er dishes. That could be pregnancy related or could be that I’m just really ready to move on from heavy winter dishes (even if I do live in San Diego). Either way, when a friend on a cooking message board I frequent mentioned a pasta salad including asparagus, I was immediately intrigued. Suddenly vegetable pasta salad combinations were just swirling around in my head and I knew exactly what we were having for dinner.

The plan was for me to make grilled chicken and serve it with a large side of this Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad. The look on Jesse’s face when I told him the plan was kind of comical. He was sure that there should be some other side, or something! Much to his surprise (and my delight!) he loved dinner and he even felt full. It just goes to show that dinner doesn’t have to be heavy to be good. The leftovers also made an awesome lunch!

 

Here are a few more lighter side dish ideas!

Tangy Mustard Coleslaw
Southwest Pasta Salad
Spicy Cold Noodles