Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I grew up eating stuffed peppers filled with ground beef and cheese. They are a serious comfort food for me.  Though they absolutely delicious and over-filling, I wanted a healthier alternative that also tasted great.  Introducing my favorite new grain – quinoa!  It soaks up the taste of everything around it and is super healthy for you.  Packed full of all sorts of veggies, these are great for a complete meal.

Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients:

4 green bell peppers
1 cup quinoa
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 can black beans, rinced
1 can corn
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2  cups vegetable broth

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Preparation:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Sautee onion in a pan until translucent.  Add corn to pan and heat for about 5 minutes.

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3.  In a saucepan, add the quinoa, tomatoes, and italian seasoning.  Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing the quinoa to cook through.  You will know when the quinoa is cooked, as the little kernels will pop and become larger.

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4. While the onion and corn cooks, add the black beans and cook for about 5 minutes until warmed through.

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5. Once the quinoa is ready, add it to the onion mixture in the pan.  Mix all together and then set aside.

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6.  Cut your peppers in half and clean out the seeds from the inside.  Lay the halves down on a covered cookie sheet, inside up.

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7.  Scoop heaping spoonfuls of the quinoa mixture onto the peppers.  It will feel like you have too much – that’s ok.  Keep scooping.

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8.  Bake for about 25 minutes until the pepper is soft.

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9.  Enjoy!

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Results:

Yum!  They’re super filling, so you’ll have plenty for leftovers.  I was surprised we each had one whole pepper.

Mushroom Melts

Sometimes you just want something and gooey, but you also want to watch your waistline.  Lucky – this meal does both!  It’s also a quick one, so if you just need to whip something together quickly, this is the way to go.

Mushroom Melts

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients:

Portobello mushroom caps (the big ones)1-2 cans of tuna fish
1 tbsp of mayonnaise
Cheese of your choice, sliced
Olive Oil
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Preparation:

1.  Preheat your toaster oven OR regular oven to Broil.

2.  Scoop out the insides of the mushroom caps.  You can use a spoon to scoop out all the gills.

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3.  Glaze the mushroom caps with olive oil.

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4.  Place the mushroom caps in your oven for a few minutes (while you prepare the tuna salad).  This will strengthen the caps and cause them to break less easily.

4.  Create your tuna salad.  Drain the tuna cans and mix the tuna meat with the mayonnaise until at desired consistency.  The more mixed, the better for this recipe.

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5.  Pull the caps out of the oven for a moment. Pile the tuna salad onto the mushroom caps.

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6.  Place some cheese slices on top of the tuna.

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7.  Pop them back in the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese melts.  You don’t want to cook it too long for food safety.

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8.  Serve and enjoy!

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Results

These mushrooms were a little on the small side because we’re out of season.  If you can get the big mushroom caps, those work best for this recipe.  Either way, it’s a healthy alternative to a favorite.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Sometimes you just need an old classic for some comfort food.  This Alfredo sauce is light and fluffy (and all natural) so you don’t have to sacrifice taste for moderately healthy eating.  You can also make this one vegetarian if you leave out the chicken, no problem.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients

  • 1 package pre-cooked chicken strips
  • 1 cup fresh chopped broccoli (or frozen broccoli, if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta of your choice

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Preparation

Make the sauce first because it takes the longest.

1.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.
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2.  Add the minced garlic, heavy cream, garlic powder, and pepper.
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3.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, until it thickens and reduces.  This takes about 10-15 minutes.  Keep stirring regularly to keep the liquid from bubbling over.  Once thick, mix in the Parmesan cheese and melt into the sauce.

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4.  Boil a pot of water and cook pasta.  Drain and set aside.

5.  Chop broccoli florets into bite size pieces.

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6.  In a pan, heat the chicken strips with a dash of olive oil or cooking spray
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7.  Add the broccoli and saute until browned.
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8.  Mix the chicken and broccoli and the sauce into the pasta pot.  Mix thoroughly.  Garnish on a plate with some extra Parmesan on top.  Serve with some garlic bread and enjoy!
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Results:

A family favorite.  I used gluten free brown rice penne for this dish and it worked great.  You can use any sort of pasta that you see fit.  The sauce is creamy without being too heavy, and this recipe made plenty for leftovers.

Crock-Pot Balsamic Pot Roast

Another crock pot gem.

Crock-Pot Balsamic Pot Roast

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients:

2 lbs of beef chuck roast
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic [I used pre-minced garlic]
5-6 red potatoes

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Preparation:

1.  Mix together beef broth, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic.

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2.  Line the bottom of the crock pot with red potatoes.  This allows for the meat not to touch the bottom of the pot and potentially burn, but it also sets you up for some amazing mashed potatoes to go with your dinner.

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3.  Place meat on top of potatoes.

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4.  Pour sauce over top of the meat.  Add 1/2 cup of water to the mix to add a little moisture to the pot.

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5.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  The roast should shrink down to about 1/2 its size – that is normal.

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6.  At this point, the meat should just fall apart.  Scoop out the potatoes and mash them together with a little butter and milk for a perfectly complementary side dish.

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Results:

Definitely a hearty meal.  This is a good one for a cold weather warm-up.  It’s quick and easy and uses mostly general cupboard ingredients.   It’s also a great bonus to be cooking a side dish at the same time as the main course.  Great time saver!

The taste is savory – the meat falls apart and can be cut with a fork.  Yum!🙂

Cranberry Chicken

One of my favorite ways to find recipes is to peruse cookbooks for inspiration.  My mom gave me one of her favorite cookbooks when I was home last – “From Noodles to Strudels”, the official cookbook of the Beverly Hills Hadassah from 1972.

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“Cherished recipes contributed by women who care” – how awesome is that.  The best part of community cookbooks like this are that the recipes are straightforward and to the point.  The recipes are easy to follow and were clearly designed with love.

This recipe is one that Mom used to make on special occasions and I’ve come to associate with a special meal.  It’s really easy but oh-so-delicious.

Cranberry Chicken

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken breasts [In this case, I used 2 decent sized pieces]1 16-oz can of cranberry sauce with the whole berries
1/2 cup French dressing
1 packet onion soup mix

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Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Put chicken breasts into a foil lined baking dish.

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3.  Mix together the cranberry sauce, French dressing, and onion soup mix in a mixing bowl.  Pour mixture on top of chicken breasts, covering all pieces.

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4.  Bake for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

5.  Serve and Enjoy!

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Results:

Perfection.  The berries add a nice counterbalance to the tangy flavor of the dressing.  This is a great, simple but lavish recipe for any dinner that you’d like to make a little bit special.

This recipe has always been one of my favorites.  Enjoy it in good health! (as my grandmother used to say :))

Dijon Chicken

The original post where I found this recipe called it ‘man-pleasing chicken’, and I don’t disagree!  This was a quick chicken meal that didn’t take too much effort but makes you look like a rockstar.  The sauce is tangy and sweet at the same time.  Both of us were licking our plates by the end.

Dijon Chicken

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken breasts  [I used thin sliced chicken tenders in this recipe and the original calls for thighs.  Any cut of chicken that you prefer will work]
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rosemary (as garnish)

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Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 450ºF.

2.  Mix together 1/2 cup of dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar into a bowl.

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3.  Put chicken pieces into a foil-lined baking dish.  Salt and pepper the chicken, then pour the sauce over until chicken is completely covered.  Put the chicken in the oven on the top rack.

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4.   Bake for about 40 minutes or until most of the liquid has burned off or caramelized.

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5.  Sprinkle some rosemary, serve with some veggies and potatoes and ENJOY!

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Results:

Winner winner chicken dinner!  This one was a bigger hit than I’ve seen in a long time.   Very savory sauce and quick time to make – call it a win-win in my book!

If you wanted to use chicken with a skin to make the sauce crust a little more, that would add to this recipe as well, but this cut of chicken was just delightful and easy to do.

Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

We were having a special occasion and I wanted a special occasion meal.  I always feel like a nice steak dinner is a bit more formal than any other kind of meal.  It reminds me of upscale restaurants and steakhouses that are reserved for special nights only.

Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

(Inspired by this excellent cookbook, page 236)

Ingredients:

Beef tenderloin steaks
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon flour [I used the gluten free flour inspired by the cookbook, but any flour would work here]
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper

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Preparation:

1.  Mince your shallot.  A shallot is like a mini-onion.

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2.  Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides.

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3.  Heat the saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and sear for about 5 minutes per side, depending on how done you want the meat.  Remove the meat and set aside.

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4. Combine the flour, wine, broth, salt, and peppar in a separate bowl.

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5. Melt the butter in the same pan used for the beef.  Add the shallot and mix around for a minute, browning it a little bit.  Add the sauce and stir gently until it thickens.

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6.  Pour the sauce over the steak and enjoy!

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Results:

This actually turned out very nice to have for a formal-ish dinner.  The original recipe calls for using some olive oil in the saute pan (pictured above).  I’d skip that step – it actually slows the cooking and when the oil gets hot, it splatters.

The sauce has a really nice tang to it and is really scrumptious.  I wished there was more once I finished my portion.

Feel free to serve the rest of that wine bottle with your meal!🙂