Southwestern Quinoa

Quinoa

I have been looking up “clean” dinners and adding them into our family weeknight meals at home. This one is so tasty and so filling that you don’t feel like you are missing out at all! And bonus that it is a one pot meal.This is also a great first-timers recipe if you have never tried to cook clean. It’s just really easy and uses pretty familiar ingredients so that’s why I’m loving it so much!

Southwestern Quinoa

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 yellow squash
1 can organic black beans
1 corn organic corn
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
8 lime wedges
1 large Avocado, cut up in chunks and added at the end (optional)

Chop all vegetables small. Saute in your largest skillet or pan on high in the coconut oil for 3-4 minutes until brown edges appear. Add in quinoa and garlic then stir. Add in chicken broth, bring to a boil then cover and turn to low to simmer for 30 minutes. Add in corn, black beans, and chili powder and stir well. Next add in salt and pepper to taste and chunks of avocado if desired. Serve warm with lime wedges.

Serves 6-8

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Crispy Onion Rings

Crispy Onion Rings

This week my hubby is away hugging orphans in Guatemala. Two nights in a row I’m two for two on going to a friend’s house and cooking them dinner! It’s a win- win for me because I love to cook and I have pretty much escaped clean up now for two nights in a row! I’m on a roll! Who wants me to come cook dinner at their house?! No but seriously these onion rings turned out SO yummy tonight that I just had to share them with all of you. The texture and crisp reminded us of the bloomin’ onion at Chili’s! Really Easy and quick to make but a couple cautions…

*do not leave oil on high heat the entire time. Once oil is heated and bubbles around the handle of a wooden spoon, its good to go,  go ahead and start frying the first batch but kick the heat down to med high

*Fry about 6 onion rings at a time, any more really lowers the heat of the oil and they won’t cook all the way.

*If you do more than 4 batches which is about 1 large sweet onion it’s best to change the oil to avoid bitter or burnt remnants over taking the oil.

* be ready and have a system so you don’t burn them!…it goes like this… Egg, dredge in Breadcrumb/flour mixture , fry, flip, fry more, drain on paper towel on a plate. Boom! Perfect!

Crispy Onion Rings

2 cups vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten well
1 large sweet white onion sliced and pieces pulled apart
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Heat oil in deep skillet. Slice onion and pull apart to create the “o” rings. Mix flour, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic salt well and put in a shallow dish. Dip onion rings in beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs…shake off excess, put in hot oil (about 350*) Fry for 90 seconds then flip 60 more seconds then they are done. Place on a paper towel to drain and season with a bit more salt to taste. Enjoy!

Lime Shrimp & Black Bean Tostadas

Today was not Taco Tuesday folks…it was Tostada Tuesday! That’s right…SO tasty! It took under 30 min to throw this fabulous weeknight dinner together and I can assure you it had way less fat, calories, and sodium than a meal I used to eat at my fav local Mexican joint. This is a win! So make this, enjoy it, and savor all the yumminess!

 

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Lime Shrimp & Black Bean Tostadas

2 ears of corn, boiled

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 lb shrimp, cleaned and tails removed

1 can organic black beans, drained

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

salt and pepper

the juice of 1 lime

1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped

1 bag crunchy tostadas

8 oz Montery Jack Cheese

 

Boil water and drop in 2 ears of corn. Cook for 12 min, drain and cut corn off of the cobs once cooled. Season with a little salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl for tostada assembly.

 

Heat olive oil in a skillet, remove tails off of shrimp, cut each shrimp into 3-4 bite sized pieces. Saute on medium high for 2 min on each side. Add salt and pepper, cayenne and chili powder. Stir, then add juice of one lime to the skillet and coat the cooked shrimp well. Open black beans and drain well. Chop scalloins.

Take 2 cookie sheets and line with foil, if you wish, and place 6 tostada shells on each cookie sheet. Add 1 tablespoon black beans over each. Evenly distribute lime shrimp you made over each. Next, add corn on top, green onions on each tostada and about 1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese on each. Bake for 10 min in a 350* oven till cheese is melted.

Garnish tostadas with guacamole.

 

Strawberry Nutella Stuffed French Toast

Me and my mom! photo

I really love brunch! My best friend Shannon showed me the idea for this recipe and I’ve taken it and adapted it a bit. I love the combination I do of soaking the Texas toast in Vanilla and cinnamon egg mixture before searing off and stuffing. This recipe is so special and perfect to say “I Love You” to your mom this weekend for Mother’s Day! My mom lives near Nashville. Me and my family flew in this week from Orange County to visit and I made sure I surprised her with this “Mother’s Day Breakfast” (observed) being that it is Mother’s Day week! She loved it and so will your momma! Enjoy all you hard working momma’s out there and Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,

Jess

 

Strawberry Nutella Stuffed French Toast

1/2 loaf thick Texas Toast (in CA it’s called California Bread at Ralph’s)

3 Tablespoons butter

7 eggs

1/2 cup half n half

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 Tablespoons Nutella spread

1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Clean, hull, and slice strawberries. Place in a bowl, add sugar and lemon juice and let sit while you cook the french toast.

Whip the eggs with a wire whisk, add in vanilla, cinnamon, and half n half and mix well. Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Soak bread in egg mixture for about 30 seconds and transfer to hot buttered pan and brown well on both sides. Spread a layer of Nutella on half of the  french toast pieces while hot and stack another piece of bread on top. Generously top with strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar. (Optional). Repeat until, you have cooked all the pieces of bread.

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Cheddar Mash

We all want to enjoy food but not let it change our waistline, right? My grandma always used to say ” A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.” Being perfectly honest, I love food and I love eating and there has to be some times when we really focus on how to enjoy food that is honest to goodness good for our bodies. After all, the good Lord only gave us one. So, I am implementing even more healthy lifestyle options into our family dinners, and am being more thoughtful about what I put in my body, working to treat it like a temple. The good news is that my take on a mashed potato “fake out” is truly yummy. The texture is super close. It’s so spot on that last night at dinner my almost 2 yr old had no clue and demolished every bite! I’d say that’s a win! So eat your veggies, feel good about it and let this recipe help!

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Cheddar Cauliflower Mash

1/2 cup water

1 whole head Cauliflower

2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup low-fat milk

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish if desired)

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan bring 1/2 water to a boil. Rinse and clean head of cauliflower, cut bottom leaves off and discard. Next, cut into pieces and transfer to boiling water. Cover and steam on medium high heat for 10-12 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain water, add in butter, milk and cheese. With an electric hand mixer or potato masher (by hand) start to mash until you get a smooth creamy texture. If too thick add a dash more milk. Salt and pepper and make sure to taste. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve. Serves 6.

Lemon Parmesan Chicken Cutlet

We are all looking for new ways to cook chicken! I love working with chicken cutlets because they are thinner which means your cooking time will be less and they are also great for dredging in flour and having a finished dish packed with flavor! This dinner is satisfying and NOT deep fried, so you can feel good about that!

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Lemon Parmesan Chicken Cutlet

4 Chicken Cutlets ( They sell these but you can also take a chicken breast and cut horizontally to have 2 thinner pieces.)

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon salt and pepper, each

3 teaspoons grated Parmesan

1/2 a lemon, cut into 6 wedges

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. In a pie dish or deep plate mix together flour, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Take chicken and press into the flour coating both sides well. Keep doing this to each side until flour is completely coated on chicken. This process is called dredging.

Next, heat olive oil nice and hot over high heat in a large sauté pan. Place chicken down in hot oil. Once set down do not move in order to achieve a hard brown crust on each side. Cook for 6 minutes on medium high heat then flip the chicken and cook for another 5-6 minutes on the second side. Squeeze 2 lemon wedges over the chicken and sprinkle some more Parmesan over the top. Transfer to serving plate. Garnish with chopped fresh basil, more Parmesan, and a lemon wedge for each piece.

Serves 4

Bacon & Provolone Grilled Cheese

We are all kids at heart. My love of cooking started as a kid. One Sunday afternoon we came in the door from church, hungrier than usual. I grew up in Michigan and it was a winter day. Maybe 12 degrees outside. My dad said I could make lunch that day. I spun with the excitement of that task. Grilled cheese and soup was something I could pull off at the age of 8 and I was ready to kick it into high gear to pump out some excellent grilled cheeses for my family of six. That morning I wore a flowing dress with flowers all over it and a large bow on the front center. Well, about 3 grilled cheese sandwiches in, I looked down and to my horror my dress, that bow, was on fire. I leaned a little too far over near the gas burner and poof-bow up in flames! I didn’t panic oddly enough but spun around toward my dad. We locked eyes and his widened. He then took the most monstrous breath in and blew out as hard as he could. My dress was still smoking and he then rushed me over to the sink to submerge the remaining embers under water. Wow! I felt so confident in the kitchen and had a bit of a wake up call. We laugh about it now. And now I’m making a more grown up grilled cheese for my family on Sunday afternoons and smile at happy memories of kitchen adventures so many years ago.

12 slices bread ( Texas toast would be superb here)
1/2 stick butter
12 pieces provolone cheese
1 lb bacon cooked, drained and chopped

Butter bread liberally stack with provolone, bacon in the middle then another piece of provolone. Place another piece of buttered bread on top and cook in skillet on medium high about 3 min on each side. What temperature of your stove top. Try turning it down as the first side gets done to allow cheese time to melt well. Serves 6.

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We also had this Homemade Italian Wedding soup this week. Grilled cheese and soup is a comfort combo worth making every time. Warms the soul, I think.

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Happy Food…Happy Kitchens