Monday, May 6, 2013

Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowl

Underneath the generous helpings of salsa, sour cream, avocado and tomatoes here is a big bowl of cilantro-lime quinoa and yummy cilantro-infused cooked black beans topped with corn and cheese. 

Everything is mixed in here in this picture.  I am REALLY loving quinoa lately.  I've made several different recipes in the last few weeks and have loved them all!  I will be bringing them to the blog soon, kay? This was FABULOUS and I wish had a bowl of it sitting on my desk. right. now.

Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowl
from The Shiksa in the Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp chili powder (mild)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (spicy)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup shredded lettuce

Optional toppings:
grated cheese
sour cream or greek yogurt
diced tomatoes
pico de gallo or salsa
hot sauce or sriracha

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve or mesh strainer under running water. Drain. Pour quinoa into a saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot. Let the quinoa simmer for about 20 minutes till it becomes tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Keep a close eye to make sure the quinoa doesn't burn.

While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of oil in another saucepan over medium heat. Pour minced onion into the saucepan and saute for a few minutes till it softens and begins to turn brown. Add the minced garlic to the pot and let it saute for 1-2 minutes longer till aromatic.

Add the black beans to the pot of onions along with 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Let the beans simmer for 15 minutes till the liquid is mostly evaporated. Stir in 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

When the quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Use the fork to mix in 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

Assemble your burrito bowls. Divide the cilantro lime quinoa between four bowls. Top each portion of quinoa with 1/4 cup of shredded lettuce, simmered black beans and optional toppings.  Serve warm.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad


  Alright so I totally failed at starting a new blog.  I guess I admit I'm a little embarrassed.  You see, I was kinda hoping that this fresh start would inspire and motivate me to regularly blog since I was starting at square one.  That, plus a lot of the posts on this here blog were old and not very well written and consisted of weird formatting... blah blah.  But then I came to realize that this blog still has a ton of recipes that I love and will always come back to... and so what if the writing is a little immature? So what if a bunch of the recipes were posted in 2010?  This blog is me and it's just a fun outlet for me to write about food that I love.  Ha sounds a little cheesy.  

I'm not gonna stick to any set posting schedule, I'm just gonna post about recipes that I've made and both my husband and I have loved when I get the chance.  I don't post anything on here that (at least) I haven't loved! My husband is a little bit pickier than I am when it comes to healthier foods but he will still eat anything I put in front of him.  I always make sure to get his opinion on everything I make because his is a different perspective than mine.  I have very broad taste buds; I love trying new things whereas my husband already knows what he likes- and that's what he wants. 

This here recipe is super yum!  It's made in a slow cooker, so it's super easy.  I altered it a bit and made a homemade BBQ sauce instead of buying the bottled kind.  You can find that homemade recipe here.  I used one whole recipe for the chicken, but you could probably get away with halving it.  I had a lot of leftover sauce in the crock pot.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad
adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff
Makes about 6 large salads

5 chicken breasts
1 recipe homemade BBQ sauce or 18 oz. bottle BBQ sauce
12 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
2 avocados, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
2 cups cheddar cheese

Other toppings you might want to add: cucumbers, red onion, green onion, bleu cheese . . . the possibilities are endless!

Spray the inside of your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken breasts inside and pour the bottle of barbecue sauce on top. Cover with lid and cook on low for 4-5 hours (or high for about 2 1/2 hours). Take chicken out of slow cooker and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Once chicken is cut, assemble your salads. Place about 2 cups of lettuce on the bottom of your plate and top with the vegetables/toppings of your choice. Top salad with your favorite salad dressing (Ranch, Italian, Thousand Island- whatever you want! I prefer Ranch)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Do It Yourself: Homemade Barbeque Sauce


Sooooo.... this is the first time I've ever made a homemade condiment!  Other than salsa, if you count that!  Did you know that most store-bought barbeque sauces have an insane amount of sugar and most have high fructose corn syrup in them?  I've decided I no longer want to buy barbeque sauce from the store because of this and also because of all of the extra, unwanted additives and chemicals they put in pretty much all processed foods.  But, this recipe is seriously SO easy! Anyone could make it.  Just throw all the ingredients in a pot, stir and simmer for 25 minutes or so.  And I have the YUMMIEST recipe idea that I will post about tomorrow or very soon... it was SO good! Liquid smoke, one of the ingredients, is something I had never bought before. It is a substance produced from smoke that is passed through water.  It's used to flavor and preserve foods.  In this recipe, it adds the distinct hickory flavor that is common to barbeque sauce.  I found it in the condiment aisle of my grocery store, I think next to the barbeque sauces, even.

Homemade Barbeque Sauce
from Skinnytaste
Makes 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons
  • 1 1/3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses (unsulfured)
  • 2 tsp all natural hickory liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let it cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To use on grilled meat, brush onto chicken, pork or beef the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Unprocessing My Diet and Whole Wheat Waffles

So I will say first things first: I don't believe actual "diets" work.  As stated in my About Me page, people who lose substantial weight on popular diets (think Atkins, HCG, etc) almost always regain the weight within 5 years.  What works is a healthy lifestyle.  I DO believe in changing the way you eat to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These 3 things are the 3 categories of food that most people need to work on eating more of.

I've recently come upon the blog, 100 Days of Real Food.  Um wow, I can't stop reading through all of the posts.  A wife and mom of 2 kids decided to completely eliminate all processed foods from her family's diet.  At first it was a 100-day goal, but now they have continued this way of eating.  I've always known that it's best to limit processed food intake, but the more I read and the more I think of it, it really makes sense to eat hardly ANY of it.  The "American" diet is saturated with processed junk food like Cheez-its, donut holes, Oreos, Reeses'... and is made with unnatural and even harmful ingredients such as artificial coloring dyes, artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and genetically-modified organisms.  The saying is true that says if you wouldn't find the ingredient in your pantry, then why should you be eating it?

Now that I have a daughter (she's 3 months old), I've really been re-thinking my approach toward nutrition.  I ate pretty healthy before, buying low-fat products and whole-wheat bread, rice and tortillas, while trying to include lots of fruits and vegetables.  But I don't think that's enough anymore.  There is a definite link between nutrition and diseases of the body; you truly are what you eat.  I have a healthy body, but what I eat now will determine my health in 30, 40, 50 years from now, and I want my daughter and other future children to grow up eating the most healthy foods possible with a love of nutrition like mine.  I want their risk of getting illnesses and nutrition-related diseases to be as low as possible, and I know that I can minimize that risk in my own home.

Now I'm not going ever going to be perfect.  I can't say I will never bake with all-purpose flour again (a true "real food" diet does not include any enriched flour) or that I will never eat an Oreo again. That is simply unrealistic.  However, I am going to do my best.  These are the things I am going to work on improving in mine and my family's diet:

1. I'm not going to buy any products with high-fructose corn syrup in it
2. The products I buy will have as few ingredients as possible (the more ingredients it has, the more processed it is)
3. I will bake with whole-grain flour and unrefined sweeteners such as honey, pure maple syrup and sucanat
4. I will try to purchase as many organic products as I can afford
5. I will try to make homemade versions of store-bought items (like BBQ sauce, chicken broth, granola, bread, etc.)
6. I will stop buying low-fat and fat-free products (this post and this post were both an eye-opener to me but after additional research it makes sense that low-fat products are not healthier and they add in extra preservatives and other chemicals that make the product unsafe and unhealthy!)
This will be an on-going journey that will take time to completely adjust to, but I'm feeling committed.  I want the best for my family.  I feel SO amazing when I feed my body healthy, whole, REAL foods.  I constantly think back to the diet of our ancestors- processed junk food did not exist and they ate REAL food! It is the food that God intended us to eat, I think! (I'm definitely NOT saying it is a sin to eat processed foods at all, just that unprocessed food is in or is as close to its God-given natural state).

Here are some additional posts from the 100 Days blog that were interesting and helpful in eating less processed food:
Why you should cut processed food
What exactly is "real food?"
10 common misconceptions about real food
Real food meal plan ideas
85 snack ideas

I am definitely going to make a serious effort in eating "real" food and cooking and baking with real ingredients.  I'm excited to start this lifelong journey.  On a final note for today, I have a real food recipe that I got from the same blog... 100 Days of Real Food: waffles.  These are 100% whole wheat, using white whole wheat flour.  It is a little lighter in texture than normal whole wheat flour but yet has the same nutritional benefits.  These waffles are husband approved! My husband loved them, although he did not love the pure maple syrup that I put on top of my own waffle; he opted for regular pancake syrup (the processed, high-fructose corn syrup kind!). I personally enjoy the fresh taste of 100% real maple syrup and even though it is much runnier than pancake syrup, it is still very sweet and yummy.

Whole Wheat Waffles
Makes 4-5 waffles

2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups milk (anything from skim milk to thick buttermilk should work)
¼ cup oil (I used coconut oil)
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour (organic white whole-wheat flour works great)
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
Warmed 100% pure maple syrup for serving
Fresh fruit for serving
  1. Preheat your waffle iron.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, honey, cinnamon, and baking soda until well combined.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk together just until the large lumps disappear.
  4. When the waffle iron is hot, dab it with a little butter and then ladle some batter onto the center of the iron. Follow the instructions that came with your waffle maker to know how long it should be cooked (mine takes about 3 – 4 minutes each).
  5. Keep waffles warm until you finish cooking all of them. Top with pure maple syrup and fruit. Enjoy!

PERFECT Sugar Cookies

Let's talk about SUGAR COOKIES.  Okay so growing up my mom made sugar cookie cut-outs for just about every holiday- ALWAYS Halloween though, and USUALLY every Easter as well.  It is a fun tradition that I want to continue in my family.  I remember gathering around the table with my brothers and sister and decorating the baked and cooled cookie shapes with colored frosting and holiday-themed sprinkles.  The cookies my mom made were very good, in fact I'd make them again and again with no second thought if it weren't for this other cookie recipe.  This "other" cookie recipe is the recipe of my sister-in-law, Annie.  She has made them a couple times and brought them to family gatherings.  They are ah-mazzzzing.  Super thick, not dry at all (perfect moistness), and so so soft with a thick, creamy frosting that sets up beautifully. They remind me of the store-bought sugar cookies with thick frosting and sprinkles that everyone is obsessed about. Except better. I wanted to try making them myself to see if they would taste as good as hers... and they definitely did!  Wow... this is my go-to sugar cookie recipe now forever! So yeah you should try them out!

Perfect, Thick Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs
Yield: about 2 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter (I used salted though and it was fine)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one.  Add sour cream and vanilla and mix.  Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add 1 cup at a time to batter.  Chill dough for 1 hour.  Roll out thick on floured surface (1/4 inch).  Cut into desired shapes and place on baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Wait until completely cool to frost.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
Mix all ingredients together using an electric mixer.

Bacon Cheddar Florentine Quiche

KAY so I'm just gonna get right down to it.  Never made quiche before today (yes I actually made this recipe today!) and I was pleasantly surprised at the easiness and deliciousness! I'm thinkin' this recipe might be on the repeat for this Sunday's morning brunch..

Bacon Cheddar Florentine Quiche
recipe adapted from the Picky Palate cookbook
serves ~4 main dish servings

2 cups spinach
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup cheese- cheddar or monterey jack
1 refrigerated pie crust (or frozen pie crust- I used this, or homemade pie crust)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll the pie crust and put in a 9-inch pie plate.  Poke the bottom of crust with a fork several times.  Put chopped bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it is cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Place bacon on a paper-towel lined plate.  Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add spinach and onion to the reserved grease over medium-high heat and cook until onions are tender and spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.
When oven temperature is ready, bake pie crust for about 10 minutes to pre-bake it (do not need this step if using a frozen pie crust).  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  When crust is done baking, take out of the oven and spread the spinach and onion mixture over the pre-baked crust, and top with the bacon. Pour egg mixture over, and then top with parsley and cheese.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until eggs are set.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

So prettttty much I'm obsessed with Pinterest.  So addicting. If you follow me, then you probably have seen my gazillion boards with food.  Cause like if I wanna make a pie, then all I have to do is go to my pie board and choose one! Haha oh wow I sound like a total geek right now.  This pasta was pinned a long time ago but I decided to just now give it a try. Um, it is dang good! I recommend making it! Although I did tweak some changes- mostly that I increased the red pepper from one to two. This was because a) I feel like there was not nearly enough red pepper for the whole recipe, and 2) I'm trying to eat less meat in my life (hopefully will be a blog post one of these days) and one good rule of thumb for this is to cut the meat portion of recipes in half and to double the veggies. Now I didn't do exactly that, but you get the idea. Enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Pasta
adapted from Pearls, Handcuffs and Happy Hour
serves ~4-6

2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 {4 oz.} can diced green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
2 {10 oz.} cans green chili enchilada sauce
2/3 cups red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheese {I used colby & monterrey jack}
1 cup sour cream
2/3 box of penne pasta
Optional toppings: avocado, green onions, black olives, tomatoes, sour cream

Cook chicken, drain, and shred.  Meanwhile boil pasta according to package and chop the veggies. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet and cook onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic & red pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add cooked chicken, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, salt, & enchilada sauces.  Let sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and heated through.  Now toss in the sour cream, but whatever you do, DO NOT bring to a boil!  Cook on low heat or the sour cream will curdle.  Gross.  Stir until sour cream is well mixed and heated through.

Drain pasta & return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.  Serve and garnish with avocado, tomato, green onion, and a dollop of sour cream.
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