Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Category Archives: Quick and Easy Dinner

Southwest Quinoa Bites

Happy Friday everyone!  Here’s a fun Friday Quinoa fact for you:

2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations (thank you Wiki Wiki Wack Wikipedia).  Looks like we were one step ahead of the game with this Quinoa Bite series eh?

Ok, enough jib jab.

One of my favorite things is when you throw a bunch of stuff together, throw it in the oven and keep your fingers crossed that it will come out delicious and it does! That’s just what happened with these Southwest Quinoa Bites.  I love me some southwest flavor, as you’ve seen in recipes like Southwest Chicken Burgers and Mexican Pizza.

So why not share the Southwest wealth with Quinoa Bites?

Southwest Quinoa Bites

INGREDIENTS
*yields 12 regular muffin sized bites

2 cups cooked Quinoa

1 cup shredded, cooked chicken

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup black beans

1/2 cup canned corn

1 medium red pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 scallions, chopped small

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

3 eggs, lightly beaten

salt & pepper to taste

ranch dressing for dipping

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Place your Quinoa, bread crumbs, cooked chicken and cheeses in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3) Heat your olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the oil is heated, add your black beans, corn, red pepper, garlic, scallions, cumin and chili powder and saute for 3-5 minutes.  The goal here isn’t to cook the vegetables through, but simply allow the flavor of everything to combine a bit before adding it to the rest of the mixture.

4) Add the veggie/spice mixture to the quinoa/chicken/bread crumbs/cheese and allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding the eggs (about 5 minutes).  You can then add the beaten eggs and combine the mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5) Take a regular sized muffin tin (12 muffins) and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Add about 1/3 cup of the mixture to each muffin slot.

4) Bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Serve with a side of Ranch dressing for dipping!

Since this was dinner, I decided to use a regular sized muffin tin vs. the mini-muffin tin, but these would certainly be great bite sized as well!  Served with a nice side salad, it was a perfect, healthy and scrumptious dinner.  If you wanted to add a little kick to these, you could always toss some crushed red pepper flakes in with the cumin and chili powder! I personally like when my lips aren’t on fire, but to each his own 🙂


Buffalo Chicken Tacos

It’s been way too long since Buffalo Chicken has showed it’s mug here.  So happy Buffalo Chicken Monday to all!

While most of the Buffalo Chicken recipes on this Blog have been pre-meditated, this one was purely by accident.  Yesterday morning, while still half asleep, I reached my hand in the freezer, did an “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” and pulled out what you could call the ‘pandora’s box’ of the freezer – ground chicken.  For some reason, I continue to buy this at the store, and then when faced with doing something with it, always seem to be left scratching my head.  Last time I was faced with this was back in April, when Southwest Chicken Burgers were born.  And last night, almost 4 months later, a new ground chicken master piece was born, and Buffalo Chicken Tacos was it’s name!  You could use rotissere chicken or shredded chicken breast for this as well.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. ground chicken
(I used the 93/7 mix)

2 stalks of celery, diced small

1 carrot, shredded

1/2 onion, diced small

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce

1/4 cup Ranch dressing (or blue cheese, depending on your preference)
(I used a light version, but you could use full fat or fat free too)

2 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

6 (or so) corn tortillas

1) Cook celery, carrot, onion and garlic over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until translucent (about 5 minutes)

2) Add ground chicken to vegetables and sautee until cooked through.

3) Take the Frank’s and ranch dressing and whisk together in a small dish, then pour the mixture over the vegetable/chicken mix.  Add blue cheese and stir until melted.

4) Let simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes, until some of the sauce has absorbed.

5) Cook corn tortillas over direct flame until char marks appear, then flip and repeat on the other side.

6) Top with minced celery and carrot and sprinkle some blue cheese and ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos


Goat Cheese Week

We’re baaaaack – boy what a week it’s been! I feel like I’ve been to China and back (or maybe just the west coast) but in the last week, Dave and I flew to San Fran, drove to Sacramento, then drove to Lake Tahoe, then drove back to San Fran and then flew home!  It was a whirlwind trip, but there were several things that made all the travel well worth it.

1)  The Riehls and Little Joey – great hosts – who knew you could sample beer and parent at the same time?

Goat Cheese Week

2) The Sierra Nevada Brewery – delicious food and even more delicious beer!

Goat Cheese Week

3) Lake Tahoe Wedding celebration for my step-sister Samantha and her husband Scott! Pictures could never do it justice – absolutely gorrrrrge!

Goat Cheese Week

Goat Cheese Week

4)  Golden Gate bridge = most awesome bridge ever (terrible shot of us – instead of asking one of the 92484905840594 people there to take a pic of us, we took our own!)

Goat Cheese Week

So we’re back to life, back to reality, back to cooking!

This week, I thought it might be fun to do a series of recipes with one common ingredient, and this week’s ingredient ladies and gents isssss……(drum roll) GOAT CHEESE! I used to think “If it comes from a goat, I’m not eatin’ it” but now, goat cheese is one of my favorite cheeses – like a tangier cream cheese.  And I’ve just come to realize how versatile an ingredient it really is.

We got home from CA, and after picking up Hairy and spending lots of time playing with him to make sure he didn’t forget us, there was little time to grocery shop.  So last night’s dinner was a ‘cabinet creation’.  After not watering our herbs for almost a week, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only were they alive and well, but growing like weeds! Especially the basil!  I had found this recipe from Prevention RD for Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese pasta and thought “Yum” – and luckily, we had all the makings of it in our seemingly bare cabinets!

Modified a smidgen, here’s part 1 of goat cheese week:  Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil Pasta, adapted from Prevention RD’s recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil Pasta
*Adapted from Prevention RD

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 – 7oz bottle of Roasted Red Peppers, rinsed and drained and then chopped into small pieces

1 cup of crushed tomatoes
(I used the basil flavored kind)

4 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and sautee until fragrant (about 2 minutes) stirring constantly to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn (burnt garlic = yuck)

2) Add the chopped roasted red pepper and tomatoes and simmer over low heat for about five minutes.

3)  Add the goat cheese and stir until it’s completely melted into the sauce.

4)  Take the sauce mixture and transfer to the food processor.  Add the fresh basil, salt and pepper, and pulse until it becomes a sauce-like consistency.

5) Serve over cooked pasta!

Usually, cabinet creations aren’t my favorite, but this particular time, I think we have a winner!  This sauce was so easy to make and a complete departure from your run of the mill tomato sauce.  The goat cheese added a rich and creamy texture and the roasted red peppers a bit of sweetness.  So good.  And as I was stuffing my face, I started thinking of all the things you could do with it!  You could serve it as a hot dip, with sliced baguette and veggies, or even use it as the base for a pizza (although Dave thinks it would be too watery on a pizza – one more challenge I’ll be happy to take him up on) But all in all, a definite keeper!

Stay tuned for more delicious goat cheese installments this week!


Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa

Do you ever have those moments where something happens and you’re like “Woahhh – WEEEEIRD” – coincidences always blow my mind!

Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store when I start looking for new recipes to try – there are just SO many creative, fun and absolutely delicious recipes out there.  People’s imagination with food makes my head spin (in the good way!)

Last week, I was cyber-stumbling over all these great looking recipes that I wanted to try.  One of them being from Erin at Naturally Ella for Roasted Tomato and Corn Salsa.  I love fresh salsa, especially in the summer time.  I could eat it with a spoon, a fork, a knife, but prefereably with nice salty tortilla chips and frosty margarita.  The salsa sounded delish, and the blog post associated with it was even cuter, as she dished to readers about her surprise engagement!  Love engagement stories!  So I added it to the recipe ‘que’.

Then yesterday, who popped up right next to me on Tastespotting? Erin and her Roasted Tomato and Corn Salsa! Weeeeeird right? So I took that as a sign and while there were no chips or margharitas to accompany it, it was a perfect accompanyment to an otherwise unexciting piece of grilled chicken.  Modified it a tad (mostly to save on time) but it was awesome.  Thanks Erin and congrats on your engagement! Let the wedding planning begin 🙂

Roasted Tomato & Corn Salsa (the quick version)
*Adapted from Naturally Ella

INGREDIENTS

12 oz package of heirloom tomatoes, chopped
(or just plain roma – I personally like the orange and red combo)

3 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced

1 ear of sweet corn
(remove corn from cob)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp. chili powder

juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic for about a minute, until fragrant, then add chopped onion and cook for about a minute more.

2)  Add the tomatoes and tomatillos to the onion & garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes become tender, but not cooked through.

3)  Add the corn to the mixture last, and sautee for about a minute more.

4)  Transfer the tomato/onion/corn mixture to the food processor.  Add cilantro and pulse until you reach your desired consistency.

5)  Transfer the pureed salsa mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Then season with chili powder, lime juice and salt and pepper.

Oh boy was this yum! By sauteeing the vegetables, I saved a little bit of time vs. roasting them in the oven, but was still able to get that ‘roasty’ flavor vs. when you make the salsa with the vegetables in their raw form.  It’s crazy the difference in taste between the two!

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa

I was so preoccupied with Salsa, I didn’t even see my little buddy getting himself stuck underneath the shelf – someone apparently doesn’t know just how big he’s getting!

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa


Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs

Hey folks!  Been a few days, I know.  Charlotte was a blast – we ate, we drank, we boated – and now that my ankles have de-swelled from all the beer, Chick fil’a, barbecue and mexican food, I think it’s time  for some healthier alternatives for a bit.  The south is definitely a GREAT place to visit (as long as you’ve got a nice pair of drawstring pants with you!).

It’s now summer, fo’ real, so summer grilling can fully commence!  I’ll admit that I rarely make Kabobs, and honestly I don’t know why – they’re easy – they’re pretty – you can do so many different things with them – it’s one compact little meal on a stick! How can you beat that?

I’ve really been loving lime juice lately for a lot of things (not just margaritas) and this marinade for the chicken in the kabobs was delicious and practically calorie free!  It had a little tang, but the brown sugar cut it just a bit.  Delish.

Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs

INGREDIENTS

1 lb 98% fat free chicken boneless breasts, cut into 1″ pieces

juice of 8 limes

4 small – medium garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. light brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

10 (approximately) bamboo sticks, soaked in water for about 1/2 hour

Veggies of your choice, cut into 1″ pieces
(I used a zuccini, yellow squash and red pepper)

1) Cut chicken  breast into 1″ pieces – set aside.

2) Whisk together lime juice, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar and salt and pepper.  This will yield about 1/2 cup of marinade.  Separate into 1/4 cup for the veggies and 1/4 cup for the chicken.

3)  In a large ziplock bag or bowl, pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and let marinade for at least 1/2 hour, up to overnight (the longer the better – this was a post-work recipe so naturally we didn’t have as much time to marinade as I would have liked).  Then do the same with the veggies.

4) Soak your bamboo sticks in water for at least 1/2 hour, so they don’t burn on the grill.

5)  Assemble the kabobs alternating chicken/veggie/chicken until all kabobs are made.

Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs

6)  Cook on grill over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, alternating sides every few minutes.  Serve with a yummy starch like rice or potatoes!

I have to admit, I cheated and used our stove-top grill pan as we have a charcoal grill and sometimes it seems to take foreverrrrr to light – as mentioned in a previous post, I get pretty hangry (Hungry + Angry) if I have to wait too long for dinner, but they were equally as delish on the stove top grill!

So gentlemen (and ladies) start your engines (and your grills!)

Lime Grilled Chicken Kabobs


Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

It should be said that I ONLY share recycled recipes that have been made 239859849584 times by me if they’re REALLY good.  And you’re in for a doozie.

Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

This is Bruce (don’t worry, he only wears sparkly face paint at corporate functions that require it)

Several years ago, when I started working at my current job, I met Bruce – he was the Vice President of the publishing department at the time, and he was a mean publisher of stuff regarding the A/E/C industry (insider lingo).  But little did I know, he was also a mean COOKER of stuff.  He’d come in on a Monday, and rattle off this list of food he had prepared over the weekend for one of his impromptu pool parties, or tailgates at a Pats game, and I’d sit there listening to him, drooling all over my keyboard, amazed by the culinary skills of this publisher by day, culinary expert by night.  And then there was the fateful day when Bruce walked through the door with a crockpot.  He plugged it in, and the smell wafted through the office, and everyone stuck their arms out and did the zombie strut into the kitchen following this smell of heaven.  And the smell of heaven was coming from one of the most delicious concoctions of pulled meat I’ve ever tasted – Pulled Chicken.  After he sent out the email with the recipe, I looked once, twice, three times and thought, “OMG – even I could make this!”  and make I did – over and over and OVER again.  It has been a go-to recipe of mine for years.  Thanks Bruce!

Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

I bet Rudy will look equally as good in a cowboy hat

The reason for the pulled chicken this time around, was a bittersweet one.  One of my college gal pals is moving to Dallas in a few weeks with her husband Rudy and their two pooches, Sadie and Lucy.  And while Dallas is a smidgen further away than Boston, I’m excited for all the adventures they have coming their way! (but sad that they just missed Khloe and Lamar – I envisioned them becoming BFF’s). So for Liz’s Wine Club send off, southern themed appetizers were an obvious choice.  The PERFECT excuse to make Bruce’s Pulled Chicken Sliders!  

Bruce’s Pulled Chicken Sliders

INGREDIENTS

8 (or so) boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 tbsp seasoned salt

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp chili powder

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup of your favorite bottled BBQ sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil (or olive)

1) Heat the oil in a dutch oven or skillet.

Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

2) In a large bowl, mix all of the spices together and then coat the chicken thighs in the spice mixture.

Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

 

3) When the oil is hot, brown the seasoned chicken on both sides on medium-high heat.

Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

4) When the chicken is browned on both sides, transfer thighs to the crock pot.

5) Deglaze the hot dutch oven with the vinegar and scrape up all the browned bits and pour with the vinegar into crock pot.

6) Pour the BBQ sauce onto the browned chicken in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours.

Bruce's Pulled Chicken Sliders

7) When done, take two forks and shred the chicken in the crock pot and let sit for a few minutes.  Serve on slider rolls, or all by itself!

It’s that easy friends – and so delicous.  Perfect for an appetizer at a party, or for dinner served with mac and cheese and cornbread.  It’ll bring out the southerner in you – promise.

So thank-you Bruce for this classic crowd pleaser that I’ve made so many times now, I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore (good thing, because the printed version I have has globs of BBQ sauce all over it).  And to Liz, Rudy, Sadie and Lucy, happy trails to you!  Dallas doesn’t know how lucky they are to have you guys – can’t wait to visit!  Maybe I’ll bring my crock pot and show the southerners how the yankees make pulled chicken 🙂

 


Sorry for the crappy picture – I was starving – and you know how I get when I’m hungry!

Ground chicken is one ingredient we don’t use much of, but on a whim, I tossed it in the carriage at the store on our last trip.  And for some reason, grabbed it out of the freezer to defrost for dinner before leaving for work.  And then I got to work and thought “WTF am I gonna do with that chicken?”.  Embarking on a new ground meat journey, while exciting, is somewhat nerve racking.

Then I remembered that Dave and I get these Chile Lime Chicken Burgers from Trader Joe’s, and even though they’re frozen, they’re pretty good in a pinch, and also pretty easy on the hips too!  So I started browsing and looking up some chicken burger recipes and after taking bits and pieces from a few, and adding a few twists of my own, came up with what I thought would be the perfect Southwest Chicken Burger.

Southwest Chicken Burger 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground chicken

2/3 cup panko or plain bread crumbs

1/2 cup black beans, pureed

1/2 cup corn (or corn of 1 ear removed)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

1) Puree the black beans and corn together in a food processor (or if you don’t have an FP, you could just chop them finely with a knife.  They’re meant to add texture anyway so they don’t have to be super small)

2) Put the ground chicken, bread crumbs, black bean/corn mix, garlic, cumin, chili powder, juice of 1 lime in a large mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and mix together – try not to over mix though.

3)  Form 4 patties (or 6 – if you make 4, they’re pretty large patties) – chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so they’ll hold their shape.

4) Heat a grill or frying pan for a few minutes to let it get hot – then place the formed patties on the grill pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through.

 5) Remove from grill pan, let sit for a minute or two, then place on a bun and enjoy!

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this little creation!  The flavors were awesome together, and the black beans and corn added a little something extra to crunch on.  Like I said before, I would probably actually make 6 patties instead of 4 next time – it was a LOT of burger and I’m they type that likes a somewhat even ratio of bun to meat when I’m eating a burger or sandwich even.

Dave had his with pepper jack cheese and I mixed a little ketchup and ranch dressing together and spread it over the top.  DELISH! And easy! And healthy! My three faves!



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