As a recently-married, full-time student, there are two things I’m always running out of. Time and money. With my obsession of cooking, I’ve had to learn how to make homemade, healthy and delicious dinners that are quick to make and within our budget…
Most girls my age do that “mental battle” thing at the mall. They find that perfect shirt they really
need want, and spend the next 15 minutes trying to justify why it’s ok to buy it, and why this time, the budget will be forgiving of that adorable new outfit. Yaaa, I do that too, but it’s usually in the produce section of the grocery store…embarrassing. It usually involves that devilishly delicious mango, which given it’s the month of March, costs $2 for ONE. Ugh…
Sooo, I’ve had to learn how to eat on a budget. Buy food in bulk. Plan recipes for the week that have similar ingredients, so I can stretch things a little further.
This Mexican quinoa bowl was the result of my efforts to use similar ingredients for my meals throughout the week. Earlier this week, I made quinoa stuffed acorn squash, and you’ll notice many of the same ingredients from that recipe pop up in today’s quinoa bowl. Mission accomplished! (Well, besides the kind of expensive strawberries we ate with it…the result of my mental battle this week. Eeek.)
Mexican quinoa bowl
ingredients: *serves 2-3
- 1 chicken breast
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp salt, pepper (plus some for seasoning)
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup black beans
- 1/3 cup corn
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, sliced in to small pieces
- 1/2 avocado
- feta cheese, cilantro, sour cream for topping
- Combine garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper and 1/4 tsp chili powder in a medium bowl. Mix well. Cut the chicken breast into small cubes and add to the bowl, stir it around until it’s all covered in the seasoning.
- Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the chicken. Cook it on low heat until it’s white in the middle, about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and add the diced onion and red pepper. Cook on low heat until they are soft.
- Add the corn, beans and quinoa, and allow to warm.
- Stir in the chicken and the rest of the chili powder. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with cilantro, avocado slices, feta cheese and sour cream.
After much sweat and many tears, (ok not really,) I realized the problem with chop salads. You have to chop A LOT of vegetables. (And fruit. Don’t worry sweet mango, we haven’t forgotten you!)
But, all that work is worth it, because oh my goodness this salad is delicious.
- 1 small cabbage
- 1-2 grated carrots
- 3/4 cup grated or chopped zucchini
- 2 chicken breasts, shredded
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup lima beans or soybeans
- 3-4 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 mango, chopped
- 1/2 cup peanuts
for peanut sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup water
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chicken breasts. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain the water, shred chicken with a fork and place in a large bowl to cool.
- Chop the cabbage, green onion, zucchini, red pepper and mango. Add to the bowl of chicken.
- Grate the carrot and add it to the bowl, along with the lima beans and cilantro. Put this giant bowl of deliciousness in the fridge to chill.
- Mince the garlic and add to a small mixing bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and oil. Whisk until smooth. Add the peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth.
- Toss the dressing with the salad and add the peanuts on top. Serve chilled.
For some reason I unintentionally made a salad that could serve a family of 14 for my husband and I to eat by ourselves. Soooo, we had lots of leftovers. I ended up putting it in a whole-wheat pita for lunch the next day and I think I liked it even better that way. YUM.
*If you plan on having leftovers, keep the salad and dressing separate so it will store better. No one likes soggy cabbage…or at least let’s hope not.
After preparing dinner for my husband in our newly-unpacked 1-bedroom apartment, I had a realization. Up until last night, I have truly taken for granted the expansive counter space in my parents kitchen. And that great little invention called the dishwasher. Oh, and don’t forget a sink that is bigger than the pan I am trying to wash…
Cooking in our “new” kitchen is definitely a challenge. But who says I’m not up for a challenge?
Last night’s menu was feta and tomato orzo pasta with “Pat’s favorite chicken” and fresh white-nectarines, a.k.a the best fruit to ever touch my lucky taste-buds.
ingredients for the orzo:
for the dressing
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
for the pasta:
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 pound orzo
- 2 cups grape or teardrop tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 7-oz package feta cheese, broken in small cubes
- 1 cup chopped basil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup pine-nuts *although I omitted these because they are the one food I can’t stand.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the orzo, cooking until tender. Drain and allow to cool. (This may be done in advance, as it may take awhile for the pasta to cool.)
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice and honey, then slowly add the olive oil while mixing. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Chop the basil and green onions into small pieces. (Or if you don’t have fresh basil because you are on a newly-wed-college-student budget like me, you can use dried basil…) Cut the tomatoes in bite-size pieces.
- Toss the pasta in the dressing and add the chopped vegetables. Sprinkle with feta cheese and toss lightly.
ingredients for “Pat’s favorite chicken:”
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or freshly-pressed garlic if you have it on hand…)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and mix well.
- In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat.
- While the oil is heating, coat the chicken breasts with the well-mixed seasonings.
- Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they start to brown. *if you like your chicken to have a “crunchy” outside, cook a little longer, however not too long or it will become tough.
- Transfer the chicken to a small pan, lined with tin-foil.
- Cook the chicken in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the insides appear white.
Summer food is so delicious, I didn’t even mind the heaping mountain of dishes I had to conquer after dinner…buon appetito!