Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Tag Archives: Healthy Meal

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

*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 🙂

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 


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!

The work week is enough of a drag without having a drag of a lunch to accompany it.  But it’s really hard to keep lunches fresh and exciting when they to be shoved in a brown bag (or stylish lunch sack) 

Our controller at work is like a lunch enigma – every day, he brings the same brown paper bag to work, and it’s wrinkled and looks like it has been used about a zillion times (apparently those bags they give you at the liquor store for a 6’er are much sturdier than they look!) and he unrolls the bag and you’d think by the looks of his carrying case that he’d reveal a PB and J on stale bread or a banana that has more brown spots on it than yellow.  But every day, he unveils these lunches that look like they should be served with white napkins and silver flatware – amazing sandwiches packed with 10 kinds of lunch meat, or his left over dinner from the night before, which usually consists of at least 20 spices I’ve never even heard of or don’t know are even legal in the U.S.  And he brings these sauces and dressings that he finds at obscure markets or websites online.  And I usually look down at my turkey and cheese and Special K Cracker Chips and think “Man, I gotta shake things up”.

So this week, I tried a new soup.  I’m a big fan of making soup on a Sunday and then having it for the entire week so that I don’t have to think about what I’m eating every day or don’t stray to 3098405984059 take out menus that have acquired in the office throughout the years. Luckily for me, Dave’s not much of a soup guy – and he’s kind of a lunch buy’er or leftover taker (I am not quite as good with the leftovers) so I get the soup all to myself 🙂

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for Stuffed Pepper Soup from Skinny Taste for a while now, and my standard black bean soup that I usually make just hasn’t been cutting it lately.  So here it is! Delicious, filling (even without the rice – I was too lazy to make rice to go with it – sad I know) and something to look forward to!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

(For all you WW’ers or Nutritional Info. Voyers out there)

Serving Size = 1 & 1/3 C of Soup + 1/2 Cup of brown rice=
7 Points
261 Calories
5g of Fat
37.5 g of Carbs
17.6 g of protein


3 Cups of cooked brown rice (didn’t use – bet it would be awesome with it)

1 lb 93-95% Lean Ground Beef

1/2 of a large Green pepper, chopped

1/2 of a large red pepper, chopped

1 large onion, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 28oz can of petite diced tomatoes

1 & 3/4 cups of crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)

2 cups reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth

1/2 tsp dried marjoram

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large pot or dutch oven, brown ground meat on high heat and season with salt.

2) Drain fat if any, reduce heat to medium-low, then add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes on low heat

2) Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, marjoram and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3)  Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.  Enjoy! 

Does it taste like a stuffed pepper? Nah – but pretty darn close! It’s easy to make and healthy and I think it might even give my brown-bag toteing controller a bit of lunch envy.  And my lunch bag is way cuter than his!




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