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!

 

 

 

Spicy Cold Noodles

Last summer when I was just visiting China and no idea I would ever actually live here, I took pictures and made notes of my favorite foods. Some dishes I just had to learn how to make on my own. That’s exactly how I felt about this noodle dish. It’s like a Chinese pasta salad. Cold, refreshing, and spicy all at the same time. It is easily one of my favorite dishes here and Jesse can’t get enough of it either.

Lucky for me I have some pretty great local Chinese friends. Almost exactly a year ago I posted about our friend Mandy teaching us to make dumplings, now she has taught me how to make these cold noodles. My 24×24 party was the first time I made them on my own.  I  have to admit, I was a little nervous making it on my own for a group of Chinese food experts, but this dish was the hit of the party and disappeared in the blink of an eye.



Spicy Cold Noodles 

Ingredients
~12 oz Chinese Noodles*
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup cucumbers, cut into thin matchsticks
1/4 cup green onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic, very finely diced
2 Tbsp very finely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark rice vinegar (white rice vinegar also works)
2-3 tsp chili oil **
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp white sugar

*Noodles can be found in the Asian aisle of your grocery store, may also be labeled Rice Noodles. Thin, spaghetti like, noodles are best, but thicker noodles, like in the photo, also work. My noodles came in a roll and I used 1/2 of the roll, which I guess to be about 12 oz.
**If you can find Lao Gan Ma brand in the Asian aisle or at an Asian grocery store, use that! Or look for a chili oil that has chilies in the oil. 


Directions
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally*.  While the noodles are cooking, prepare a cold water bath. When the noodles are cooked to al dente, drain and immediately place in the cold water bath. Let sit for 2 minutes then drain again and place in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil to prevent from sticking. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and peanuts and cook for just 30 seconds to 1 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant (you’re not trying to cook the garlic, you’re just trying to take a little of the edge off). Immediately remove from heat and add, along with the cucumber and green onion, to the noodles. Set aside.

In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, and sugar. If you like a lot of spice, add more chili sauce or a pinch of dry red pepper flakes. Pour over the noodles and toss to combine and evenly coat noodles. Can be served immediately or chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 *These noodles cook much faster than Italian style noodles. Keep an eye on them so they don’t turn to mush!

As taught to me by my friend, Mandy