Quinoa, Black Bean, Veggie & Spinach Stuffed Peppers

For me, Sunday mornings usually consist of getting up, having a relaxing breakfast while watching TV and then thinking about what I want to make for dinner. It’s easy to always think back to the same things, but I try to make something new each week because my list of things “to make” is, seemingly, never-ending. This past Sunday, though, I wasn’t in the mood for anything labor intensive, but I knew I wanted something healthy and “homey”. After a little brain searching, I decided I would make stuffed peppers! I’ve made stuffed peppers before, but since I never make the “stuffing” the same way, I figured it would be like trying a new recipe!

The best part of the recipe? It was so easy! As I was making it, I actually thought to myself “wow. Not a lot of chopping or simmering or dishes. Awesome”.

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Quinoa, Black Bean, Veggie & Spinach Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients (my recipe makes 2 stuffed peppers)

  • 2 Green Peppers
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1tbsp minced garlic
  • 1tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4-1/2 black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • Big handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (1/4-1/2 cup… or as much or as little as you want!)

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the seeds. Place on a tray and set aside. (Tip: I cut up the tops of the peppers and use that for the stuffing, too.)

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2. Cook the quinoa according to the package (1/2 cup quinoa, 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and let boil for about 12-14 mins or until the water has been absorbed). Cut up your onion and pepper tops and sauté with 1tbsp minced garlic and 1tbsp EVOO. I also added a few dashes of white wine… because, well, wine why not?

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3. Rinse your beans and add those, the corn, diced tomatoes (drained) and spinach. Sauté until the spinach has wilted.

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(Note: I made way more stuffing than needed… I could’ve made 4+ peppers. whoops. The amounts above should be good for 2 peppers)

4. Add 1/2-1 cup of the cooked quinoa to 1/2-1 cup of the veggie and spinach mixture. Mix together with 1/2 cup marinara sauce and a small sprinkling of cheese (1/8-1/4 cup to keep everything together).

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5. Stuff the peppers and top with additional cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. I also broiled mine for 2 minutes to get extra browning 😉

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Mmm. Now doesn’t THAT look delicious! What I love about stuffed peppers is that they are a complete meal on their own. Veggies, protein, dairy… Love it!

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I had lots of stuffing mixture leftover and have been adding it to salads all week. I also see myself making a quesadilla with it!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite stuffed pepper stuffing? What’s your favorite meal that has all the food groups in it? When do you meal plan?

Artichoke & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken & a Summer Quinoa Salad

The title of this post caught your attention, didn’t it? Last week, as I was thinking about what to make for my first *real* meal in my new apartment, I decided I wanted to make something different from the “normal” Monique meals. I always text my friend JP photo’s of my meals and he said a few weeks ago: “your meals always look the same! Delicious, but the same!”, so I decided it was time to change that! In addition to my meal looking different, I also wanted there to be no trace of zucchini or summer squash. No offense to either vegetable, but after 3 meals in a row with those veggies being the main focus (Summer Squash and Zucchini Lasagna, Zucchini Boats, and Zucchini & Summer Squash Parmesan), I wanted nothing to do with them!

While walking and talking to my mom, I decided to make one of my favorite “go to” chicken recipes: Artichoke and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken. A number of Christmas’ ago, my mom got me the Cooking Light Chicken cookbook and this was one of the first recipes I made from it. I’m not big on repeating recipes (why would you when there are SO MANY recipes to try?!), but I have repeated this recipe a handful of times because it’s THAT good. And, it’s really quite easy, which is always a nice thing.

Once I decided on the main dish, I looked through all of my Hannaford “Fresh” magazines (which always has delicious looking recipes- I’ve tried a number of them and have loved them all!), in search of a fun side dish. In the January/February 2013 edition, they had a recipe for a Toasted Quinoa-Pistachio Tabbouleh and I knew that was what I wanted to make. I ended up changing the recipe quite a bit, but I followed the dressing recipe to a T, so that counts for something, right? Anyway, these two recipes paired for a delicious Sunday dinner! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did 🙂

Artichoke & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

-recipe is from Cooking Light

Ingredients – Just an FYI, since I was only cooking for myself, I halved the recipe below. This is how it is listed in the cookbook.

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp grated lemon ride (I don’t have a grader so I just squeezed the juice of a 1/2 of a lemon instead)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (6 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 1 (3 oz) package herbed goat cheese, softened
  • 4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375*.

2. Combine the first 6 ingredients, sir well.

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3. Flatten the chicken breasts so they are nice & thin- it’s easier to roll them this way. Place about 2tbsp of the cheese mixture and roll the chicken (jelly roll style). Secure with toothpicks.

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4. Heat a large skillet, coat with a little EVOO and brown the chicken rolls. Move the chicken rolls to a baking pan/dish and bake at 375* for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.

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Summer Quinoa Salad

-Recipe from Hannaford’s Toasted Quinoa-Pistachio Tabbouleh. My changes are noted in red.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth– I forgot to buy this so I just used 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (packed)– didn’t buy this so I skipped it, but added lots of basil!
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint– thought this was weird so I skipped it
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced– didn’t add this
  • 1/3 golden raisins– didn’t add this

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Directions

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast, shaking the pan occasionally. Should brown in 3-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (covered) until quinoa is tender- about 15 minutes. Once it’s cooked, remove from the heat and let cool. I skipped this- I just cooked the quinoa with water according to the package- how boring 😉

2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.

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3. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber accordingly. If you’re following the recipe, also cut the scallions, parsley, and mint. Add to the dressing.

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4. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add pistachios and toast until fragrant and slightly browned (about 3 minutes). I did this, and burned them. Well, most of them. Whomp. (Don’t worry- I still used them)

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5. Once the quinoa has cooled, add it to the cucumbers, tomatoes and dressing. Mix well. Top with toasted pistachios. (if you’re following the recipe exactly, you’d be adding the quinoa to the veggies, herbs, and raisins.

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Ta-da! I steamed up some broccoli on the side, even though it wasn’t necessary. This was such a fun and delicious meal that was totally different from the normal meals I make. It’s a great dinner party meal, too!

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I happily ate leftovers of this meal for a good part of the week. Once the chicken was gone, I added the quinoa salad to a bed of lettuce, added some sliced turkey deli meat and goat cheese… ohhh my goodness! This was the best “salad” I’ve had in a long time.

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Questions for you: What’s a recipe that you tend to repeat? What’s your favorite salad right now?

Chicken Sausage & Veggie Quinoa Salad w/Lemon-Basil Dressing

Hey there! After I made that delicious Caprese Orzo Salad, I knew that more summer salads were in my future, and boy was I right! This past weekend was another hot and humid one, so the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven and make a big, hot meal. Not only did I not want to cook that, I didn’t want to eat that; no need in raising the body temperature any more than it already was! I got another craving for chicken sausages, so I picked up a package at Market Basket along with some veggies and quinoa. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a pasta dish or quinoa dish, but the sale on quinoa made that decision very easy!

I went into the meal with really no recipe but did consult a blog for the “dressing”. Originally, I wanted to use marinara sauce and bake the dish, but once I decided that I would rather have a cold salad, those ideas/plans went out the window. Luckily, I was able to find an easy recipe for the dressing (found it here– I only used the dressing recipe, although the rest of the recipe looks delish!) and the rest I just threw together.

Chicken & Veggie Quinoa Salad with a Lemon-Basil Dressing

  • 3 Chicken sausage links
  • 3/4 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (reduced sodium)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • Corn from 1 ear of corn
  • 4 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp honey or agave
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped basil

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1. Bring chicken broth and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, chop your veggies. Let the onions cook first (about 3 minutes) and then add the green peppers, broccoli and corn. I poured a little of the leftover chicken broth into the veggie pan to help steam the veggies a little.

2. Cut up the chicken sausage and add to the veggies.

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3. Prepare the dressing: combine the lemon juice through chopped basil. Once the quinoa and veggies and sausage are done, combine and pour the dressing onto the mixture. Mix well.

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I put mine in the fridge to cool before eating, but my sister thought eating cold meat was weird, so she heated hers up. I don’t mind eating cold meat, especially on a hot day, so I served mine cool and loved it! Although it seems like you might need something extra on the side to make this a full “meal,” I was fully satisfied with this “as is”. Ok, that’s a lie, Danielle did make garlic bread that was really tasty to eat along side this salad. Everything in moderation, right?!

Questions for you: Do you like chicken sausage? Do you mind eating cold meat or would you rather it hot?

Lemon Chive Broiled Tilapia with a Greek Yogurt, Lemon & Chive Sauce

Hi there! Two posts in one day- you lucky ducks! I also realized it’s a little ironic that I posted a workout for you first, and then a healthy meal idea. Maybe you should try both, in that order 😉

Since I am not teaching Dynamax this session ( 😦 ), I now have Monday AND Tuesday nights off from teaching. I almost don’t know what to do with myself now that I have all this extra time! Luckily, I am very good at filling up an open schedule, so I certainly haven’t been bored yet. I had to work from home on Monday since we had plumbers coming (came back to the apartment on Sunday and realized we had no hot water- lovely), which was actually a really nice way to start the week. Saving the 1-1.5 hours in commuting is such a wonderful thing.

After I finished working, I went for a 40 minute run (4.62 miles- nothing too fast, but it felt good!) and then did about 30 minutes of strength and core when I got back to my apartment. I had gone to the grocery store during my lunch break to pick up 3 essentials for the dinner I had planned to make: fish, chives, Greek plain yogurt, so once I finished my workout and took a shower, I got right to work! This meal came together really quickly, so it is a perfect weeknight meal to make!

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Lemon Chive Broiled Tilapia w/a Greek Yogurt, Lemon & Chive Sauce

Ingredients

  • Fresh Tilapia (or any fish of your choosing)- I got a small filet since it was just for me and I didn’t want a lot of leftovers- it was about .3 lbs.
  • 1 lemon
  • Chives (side note: all weekend my dad kept reminding me to take some fresh chives from his garden, yet what was the one thing all 3 of us forgot to pack up for me? The stupid chives. It seriously pained me to have to pay $2 for a package of chives when I knew my dad had SO many for me!)
  • 2% Greek Plain Yogurt (they didn’t have 0%, but the thickness of the 2% was actually great)- I used 1/4 cup
  • 1/4-1/2 large onion
  • 1 small summer squash (this was REALLY small, but perfect for my meal!)
  • 1 box of Near East Quinoa Blend (mine was the Rosemary and Olive Oil)
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper008

Directions

1. Cook the quinoa according to the back of the package. While that is cooking, cut up your onions and summer squash and saute those in a pan. I used a little bit of EVOO, salt and pepper (no wine since I didn’t have any- the horrors!).

2. Prepare your fish: I rubbed a small amount of EVOO on the fish, sprinkled some sea salt and pepper, topped it with 3 lemon slices & a few squirts of lemon juice that I had in the fridge, and finally, about 1-1.5 tsp chopped chives. I placed it in the oven and broiled it until it was white and flakey (about 5-7 mins).

0093. While the quinoa, veggies and fish are cooking, prepare your sauce. I used about 1/4 cup 2% Greek plain yogurt, juice from the remainder of the lemon that I took slices from for the fish, few shakes of salt & pepper, and about 1- 1.5 tsp chopped chives. I mixed it up well and let it sit.

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4. When the fish is done, remove from the oven. Your veggies and quinoa should also be done, so add the veggies right into the quinoa and mix well.

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5. Serve up some of both, top with sauce and enjoy! I also made a small side salad to go with this meal and it was perfect!

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Mind you, this was my FIRST time cooking a fish meal other than something simple like shrimp, so I was pretty nervous about how it would turn out.  No worries, though, I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor of the fish and how easy it is to cook! Normally, I get carried away in the kitchen and end up spending so much time on what I am making, but not on Monday night- I was finished before I knew it (maybe that is in part to not drinking wine while I was cooking… maybe that’s what drags out the process 😉 ). I can’t wait to use the leftover quinoa and veggie mixture to top my salads with… and maybe even use the “sauce” as my dressing?!

Don’t like fish? I think you could do the same thing, but use chicken instead! Obviously you’d have to bake the chicken and not broil it, but I think it would still be delicious!

Questions for you: Do you like fish? What is your favorite kind?

Boston Has My Heart.

**edited to add- As I posted on Facebook yesterday, I had this post all ready to go up yesterday, but after Monday’s horrific events in Boston, I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it, so I ended up doing my best to avoid social media all together. I realize for most people, this was a source of comfort and way to express emotions and connect, but I really just had to step away for some time. To all my readers out there, I hope everyone is safe and that your friends and family are safe as well. The texts, emails and phone calls I received to make sure I was safe were overwhelming. I was, and am, safe and am fortunate that all of my friends who were at the marathon are safe as well. Boston is the strongest city around, so I know we will overcome this.

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I’m not the best with words or transitions, and am not even really sure how to segway into my original post, but here goes nothing…

Hey everyone! How’s it going? I swear the birthday talk and posts are almost done:) Even though I nursed an awful headache all morning, I pulled myself together to go out for a birthday lunch. I had really wanted to go to Local 149 in Southie, but since I knew my patience was low, I opted to avoid the parking and probable lines and suggested that we go to Not Your Average Joe’s right near us in Medford. The greasy food and fountain soda did the trick. I felt a million times better not long after we got there!

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Yes, all 3 of those drinks are mine. I needed a lot of liquid and wasn’t sure what was going to do the trick so I went for a variety: booze, soda, water. The Diet Pepsi did the trick! My sister’s recent hangover cure is a milkshake, so we swung through McDonald’s after lunch and I just had to get myself a sundae! I’ll tell ya, I felt human again after these! So much so, that I was able to come home, pick up around the house and clean my room! boom! Take that, hangover;)

I got a pleasant interruption midway through the afternoon. MORE birthday flowers… AND chocolate covered strawberries. I am a lucky girl!

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Rachel stopped by a little while later and it was fun catching up, hashing & rehashing, and playing with Millie (her sweet pup!).

After Rachel left, I started to make a healthy dinner to try to redeem my not so healthy lunch (I don’t regret any of it, though! It was just what the doctor ordered.). I stocked up on a bunch of veggies at the grocery store because I was not sure what I was going to be in the mood to make on Sunday night. I took my mom’s tip and sautéed up a huge batch of veggies (EVOO, wine, garlic, seasonings) to have handy for the week. I also had a few chicken sausage links leftover from when I made my Chicken Sausage & Veggie Sauce Spaghetti Meal, so I also cooked up some of those. To accompany the chicken sausage and veggies, I made a batch of quinoa/brown rice blend (love this stuff!).

I probably cooked about 3/4 cup of each veggie, few dashes of wine and garlic, and a few shakes of different herbs/seasonings and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes on med/low heat.

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039When the veggies were about halfway done, I started my quinoa and chicken sausage.

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041Once everything was cooked, I placed some veggies in a bowl, topped with chicken sausage and goat cheese and gave myself a serving of quinoa. I wasn’t sure what to use for a sauce for the veggies and chicken sausage, but out of sheer laziness, I settled on using a little marinara sauce which was actually a pretty good idea!

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045Yum! This meal was so warm and comforting. And it was really very easy! I packed up all the leftovers and am excited to have a bunch of nice veggies and quinoa handy for meals throughout the week. If any of you have any ideas/suggestions for how I can use these in a meal this week, please share! I also have a sweet potato that I want to do something with, too, as well as a spaghetti squash. So many options!

Questions for you: What was a memorable meal from the weekend? Do you like to “stock up” on foods so you can have quick and easy meals during the week?