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.
Ok people. Let’s talk about squash. Those big, chunky, vegetables that, let’s be honest, are somewhat unapproachable at the grocery store. They’re sitting there in a heap with all their other squashy friends and yes, they look beautiful. But not to eat. More like, put on your porch at Halloween and let them just sit there. Doing what they do best…
But every once in awhile, I get enough courage to actually put one of these guys in my grocery cart with the intentions of eating it. I know, so brave.
I’ve made butternut squash before, but I’ve never dared to try one of these bad boys…
…Until last night. Turns out, they have a purpose besides sitting on my front porch! They actually tasted pretty darn good, and it was a simple and healthy dinner to throw together. That’s what I’m talking about.
quinoa stuffed acorn squash *serves 2
- 1 small acorn squash
- 1/4 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup frozen or fresh corn
- 1/2 t chili powder
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- dash of salt and pepper
- cilantro, feta cheese, sour cream (I used plain Greek yogurt) for garnishing
for the chicken: (this can be omitted if you’re going vegetarian-style, but I knew that wouldn’t fly with the hubby, so I threw some chicken in.)
- 1 small chicken breast, cubed
- 1/2 T coconut or olive oil
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
- 1/2 t garlic powder
- 1/2 t onion powder
- 1/2 t ground paprika
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash down the middle and scoop out all the seeds and goopiness. Place squash cut-side down in a baking pan, cover halfway with water, and put foil over the pan. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until soft.
- While the squash is baking, cook the quinoa according to the directions. (I recommend cooking it in chicken broth to give it some flavor.)
- Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and ground paprika in a bowl, and mix well. Add the cubed chicken and roll it around until it is all covered in the seasoning.
- Heat some oil in a saucepan and cook the chicken on low-medium heat until white in the middle. (Not too long or it will be tough. Usually about 5-7 minutes.) Place the chicken on a plate and leave excess oil in the pan.
- Saute the diced onions until soft, about 4 minutes, then add the corn and allow to brown slightly. Add the quinoa, beans, cumin, chili powder, and a dash of salt and pepper. When warm, add the chicken back to the pan and stir.
- When the squash is soft, remove from the oven and use a large slotted spoon to remove from the water. Place cut-side up on a plate and fill each squash with the quinoa mixture. Top with sour cream, feta cheese and cilantro.
Summer may be coming to a close, but I just can’t seem to give up the summer food…
This little beauty was born from all my leftover ingredients from the week’s dinners. It’s an incredibly easy and delicious side-dish, or throw in some chicken and eat it for the main course.
- cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked quinoa serves two people once cooked)
- 1 small zucchini
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 fresh corn, cut off the cob
- feta cheese to crumble on top
- drop of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- balsamic vinegar, or your favorite type of dressing to spice things up
- Start by cooking your quinoa.
- While quinoa is cooking, saute zucchini in a bit of olive oil. Once soft, add the tomatoes and corn.
- Assemble everything together and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese.
I. Love. Summer. Food. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this.
ingredients for quinoa salad: (this will serve about 2 people)
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 corn on the cob, cooked or grilled
- handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/2 can black beans
- 1 small avocado, chopped in bite-sized pieces
- feta cheese
- cilantro for garnish
- *you may also add chicken if you’d like
directions for the salad:
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with lime-cilantro dressing and BAM. Easy and delicious summer meal.
ingredients for cilantro-lime dressing:
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, de-stemmed and chopped up
- 1/2 cup plain or honey Greek yogurt ( I used honey flavored by Greek Goddess…I highly recommend it)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 lime, squeezed
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp. honey (if you used honey flavored yogurt, you can leave this out.)
directions for cilantro-lime dressing:
- Blend the cilantro in a food processor.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.
This salad is even better if you nestle it inside a warm whole-wheat pita. I also sprinkled a few drops of balsamic vinegar on top because well, I have a strange obsession with balsamic vinegar. Either way, this was a delicious way to spend another summer night.
So it seems the trendy thing to do these days is become vegan. That’s not happening for me. Ever. However, I’m always up for a “food adventure,” so last night I made vegan black bean burgers and added quinoa for some healthy whole grain.
ingredients: *makes about 8 thin burger patties
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 large carrot (grated)
- 1/2 bell pepper (diced)
- 1/2 onion (diced)
- balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- dash of salt and pepper
for the toppings (optional):
- avocado slices
- fresh cilantro
- feta cheese
- balsamic vinegar
- your favorite kind of burger bun (I used whole-wheat sandwich thins)
- Grate the carrot and dice the onions and bell pepper. Mix together in a large bowl.
- Puree the black beans and 1 T balsamic vinegar in a food processor. (I used my brand new food processor we got from our wedding. Yipeeee, weddings are the best!)
- Add the bean puree, cooked quinoa, olive oil and spices into the bowl and mix very well.
- Form into patties and cook in a skillet until slightly brown on each side.
*the patties are very delicate and will break apart easily, so be gentle with the patty flipping!
- Top with feta cheese, avocado, cilantro and sprinkle a generous amount of balsamic vinegar over the top.
- Put between a sandwich thin, burger bun, or eat over lettuce/spinach like a salad.
Just look at my adorable food processor, doing his job the best way he can…
To complete the meal, I cooked some corn-on-the-cob and sliced some fresh fruit. Tonight, I enjoyed being vegan. (Well, besides the definitely-not-vegan feta cheese.) But who’s holding it against me anyway??? I guess I’m just not cut out to be vegan.