First full week back to work = a fresh week to start a great series with a yummy little ingredient I’ve been seeing a LOT of lately – Quinoa – reminds me a little bit of Cous Cous, but much heartier and packed with protein. I’ve come to learn too that it’s a great base for a lot of fantastic recipes too – Quinoa bites in particular. A while back, I tried these delicious Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites from Miki’s Kitchen and they were a perfect, healthy snack for anyone out there that is as Buffalo Chicken crazy as I am. Bites are perfect really – they’re small – they’re cute – you can eat them with your fingers, and it’s generally assumed that you can have one or two extra, cuz’ hey! They’re bite sized!
Why else am I pushing Quinoa? Well, due to it’s protein punch package, it’s considered a power food which I’ll be needing a lot of lately as I begin (or, more like “focus” on) my Half Marathon training schedule. There I said it out loud. Some of my besties from home and I are headed down to Disney in just a few short weeks to do the Princess Half Marathon – and while I can’t WAIT to get down there, catch some rays, eat some Dole Whip, and hopefully get a glimpse of Mickey & Minnie, there’s that whole 13.1 miles to get through first, and I’ve got a ways to go training wise. So come on Quinoa, help a sistah out will ya?
Ok first up, Quinoa Bites for breakfast, the most important meal of the day! And this combination of quinoa, apples and a sweet sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar will start your day off just right 🙂
Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bites
*yields about 26 bites
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup quick oats, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup chopped apples
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a large mixing bowl, add your cooked quinoa and quick oats. In a separate smaller mixing bowl, combine your cinnamon, nutmeg and sugars and then add the spice mixture to the quinoa and oats. Then add the maple syrup, apples and eggs and mix until just combined.
3) Spray your mini muffin pan (24 count) with non-stick cooking spray. Make sure to spray the top of the pan as well. The quinoa bites will overflow out of the cup a little bit, so you don’t want the tops to stick.
4) Fill each muffin slot with 1 tablespoon of the mixture and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
Oh yummmm – these were like little hearty mini muffins packed with deliciousness and nutritiousness – the best of both worlds!
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?
2) The Sierra Nevada Brewery – delicious food and even more delicious beer!
3) Lake Tahoe Wedding celebration for my step-sister Samantha and her husband Scott! Pictures could never do it justice – absolutely gorrrrrge!
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!)
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
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!
Anyone out there that hates eating at 9pm during the week say “Aye” – AYE!
Dave and I are big supporters of having breakfast for dinner – crack some eggs, fry some bacon (or turkey sausage), toss a couple pieces of toast in the toaster and you have a healthy and fulfilling dinner that you’re not eating for breakfast! (even though it is breakfast – tricky I know)
But as much as we like the BFD routine, it’s still nice to try to shake it up a smidgen. So this Chicken Sausage Fritatta does not disappoint – it has awesome flavor – lots of healthy veggies and Chicken Sausage, which is a nice substitute for bacon or straight up regular sausage. And don’t be scared by the dijon – it gives it a little zip and who doesn’t like a little zip?
Don’t you love the word Fritatta? Makes me want to shake maracas when I say it.
Chicken Sausage Fritatta
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 chicken sausage links, sliced and cooked
1/2 large green pepper, or one whole small, chopped
1/2 large red pepper, or one whole small, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 cup – I used Cabot reduced fat cheddar)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. shredded parmesean cheese for sprinklage
1) In a saucepan over medium heat, cook your sliced chicken sausage for about 5 minutes, til’ just browned (technically they’re already cooked, but I think it’s a good idea to saute them before putting them in the fritatta)
2) In another saucepan (or same if you want to save on dish duty) saute your chopped onion and garlic over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Then add the chopped red and green pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until all veggies are cooked through. Set aside to let cool a bit.
3) In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, water, dijon mustard, italian seasoning, cumin, and shredded cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Then stir in chicken sausage, peppers and onions.
4) Pour into a greased, shallow 1.5 qt. baking dish (or you could probably do a pie plate too – might just need 2 of them). Sprinkle top with parmesean cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (test w/a knife/toothpick – when it comes out clean it’s ready!)
5) Slice, serve, and ENJOY!
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s a great base for any fritatta really – you can swap up the veggies and even the meats if you’d like! Keep it zippy 🙂
And it’s pretty good for you too – unless of course you serve it with cinnamon buns – then it’s all over!