Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Zucchini

I love stuffed peppers. As a kid this was always one of my favorite dinners that my parents used to make. The peppers were always so delicious, so filling, and I used to fight my sister to be able to eat the left over stuffing!

When my husband and I were first married, I started making my own version of stuffed peppers by using good old Rice-a-Roni as the base of my stuffing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Rice-a-Roni…a lot, but the “health conscious” side of me knows that there are healthier options out there that are just as delicious. I finally decided to experiment a bit with quinoa as an alternative, and though I used to always add some kind of ground beef or sausage, I decided to make a vegetarian version this time.

Let me tell you–these turned out so delicious there weren’t any leftovers!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Header 2.jpg

What You Need
3 cups cooked quinoa
6 to 8 red bell peppers, tops removed and diced, bell pepper cavities seeded
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 small to medium sized zucchini, diced
1 cup corn kernels
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can petite diced tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

The How To
Preheat your oven to 350º F.
1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions to yield three cups.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the bell peppers by chopping off the top, removing the stem, seeding the pepper cavity, and dicing the cap.
3. In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Saute the garlic until lightly browned. Add the onions, zucchini, and diced bell pepper caps. Cook until onions are semi-translucent and the other vegetables are slightly softened.
4. Salt and pepper to taste and add the chili powder as well.

Sauteed Vegetables for Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

5. Add the corn first, then the beans, the tomatoes, and finally, fold in the quinoa.

Quinoa and Bean Stuffing for Peppers

6. Stuff the bell peppers with the stuffing mixture. Place upright in a baking dish, and top generously with cheddar and feta cheeses. Note: you can add a quarter to a half inch of water in the bottom of your baking dish if you would like to help prevent sticking and to help “steam” your pepper to help it cook a bit more quickly, but it is completely optional. Don’t add too much–you don’t want your peppers to boil at the bottom and cook unevenly.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Topped with Feta

7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pepper is cooked and the cheese is brown and lovely on top.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Right Out of the OvenQuinoa Stuffed Peppers Close Up

They look delicious, right?! I promise you, they are. What are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Dinner Plate

I paired these delicious peppers with a simple salad: mixed greens with spinach, topped with fresh berries, more feta (because, yum!) and a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Dinner Plate 2

Note: I mostly just threw things together, but just before making the peppers I decided to google “quinoa stuffed peppers” to see what other people put in their stuffing and I stumbled across a recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Damn Delicious. I’ve mentioned this blog here in the past (because everything is so amazing!) and from the looks of it, the recipe was sure to be a winner. I got the idea for the corn and the feta from that blog, but I pretty generously adapted the recipe to fit my taste and what I had on hand. You can check out the original recipe here, if you are interested.

Also, you may find that the recipe makes more stuffing than will fill 6 or 8 peppers. It really depends on the size of the peppers and on the size of the other veggies you use. If you have extra stuffing, it keeps as leftovers very well and would also be delicious all on its own if you don’t want to buy more peppers.

I hope you all enjoy these when you make them! Let me know how they turn out for you!

Linking up with Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Zucchini Lasagna

If you are a regular reader of my blog I’m sure you have noticed by now that I love zucchini. It’s so healthy, versatile, and it’s relatively inexpensive. This recipe is fantastic because it’s a healthy, veggie packed, low carb lasagna option. Oh, and did I mention it’s delicious? Because it is. It’s so good!

Zucchini Lasagna Header

Since having gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy I’m more aware of my carb intake and always looking for ways I can swap ingredients in recipes for low or lower carb options. The zucchini in this recipe replace regular lasagna noodles so well that I don’t even miss my regular lasagna recipe. It’s also nice to get more veggies in my meal and be able to save my carbs for a yummy, crusty, crunchy piece of bread to sop up the extra sauce. Yum!

Also, don’t be fooled…I know I usually post quick and easy, 30-minutes or less dinner recipes, but this meal is kind of time intensive. It isn’t difficult! It just takes a while to make. Save this for a night when you have plenty of time and are in the mood to cook.

What You Need:
1 lb mild or medium Italian sausage
about 2 teaspoons (3ish cloves) of minced garlic
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
3 to 4 medium zucchini, sliced longways (about 1/8″ thick)
salt and pepper to taste
15 oz part skim ricotta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

The How To:
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
1. If the sausage has casing, remove it and begin to cook over medium high heat until the sausage is cooked through and there is no pink left. *Note* If you want to keep this recipe strictly vegetarian you can replace the sausage with diced portabella mushrooms, but be sure to drain the excess liquid so the lasagna doesn’t become watery.
2. Once the sausage is cooked through, drain the excess fat until there is only about a tablespoon left. If you would like to remove the sausage from the pan you can, but I like less clean up, so I left the sausage in the pan for the next step.
3. Saute the garlic until lightly browned and then add the onions. Stir all together and cook until the onions are somewhat translucent.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add the sausage back to the pan if you removed it, and then add the diced tomatoes as well as the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. If you purchased tomatoes and tomato sauce already with Italian seasoning, you can leave out the extra seasoning according to your preferred taste. Allow the sauce to simmer over medium low heat while you prepare the zucchini.
Zucchini Lasagna Sauce

5. Slice the zucchini longways so that they are about 1/8″ thick. Your life will be one thousand times more simple if you have a mendolin slicer, but I did not, so I cut my zucchini in half and used my wavy slicer (does that have an actual name?). The goal is to make the slices thick enough that they don’t just disintegrate into mush, but thin enough that they will cook all the way through and act like noodles. It can be tricky, I know. Don’t worry. You’re doing great!
Sliced Zucchini

6. Lightly salt the zucchini slices as you go. This will not only season the zucchini but will also help the excess water come out. I put my slices on a bed of paper towels and then soaked up the excess water by gently pressing the slices.
7. Brown the zucchini in a pan. If you cook the slices before putting them in the lasagna, most of the excess water will be cooked off beforehand. This makes a much more delicious (and significantly less soupy) dinner. Trust me. I know it seems like a time consuming step, but it really does make it worth it. You can also add pepper at this point, if you prefer.
8. Once your zucchini slices have all been cooked off, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and egg together in a bowl until well blended. Ta-da! You are ready to layer!
9. Start with a layer of sauce at the bottom of your baking dish or disposable pan (hello easy clean up!). Follow with zucchini slices, then a thin layer of the ricotta mixture, and then some mozzarella cheese. Continue to layer until you run out of ingredients. My lasagna usually consists of sauce, zucchini, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, zucchini, ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella to top it off. Also, sorry! I forgot to take a picture of my ricotta layer. But I’m sure you get the idea.
Zucchini Lasagna Layers

10. Cover your baking dish in tinfoil and then bake at 375°F for 45 minutes, then bump the temperature up to 400°F and bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the mozzarella on top is browned and bubbly to your liking.
Baked Zucchini Lasagna

Enjoy! You will probably want to dig in right away, but if you have the time to allow it to rest for about 10 minutes, you may come out with a slightly more structured slice of lasagna than I did. Ha, I didn’t want to wait–I was starving!

Plated Zucchini Lasagna

Also, don’t you worry if it kind of falls apart. It may not look like the most amazing thing you have ever cooked, but I can promise it will be among the most delicious! I hope you love it! Let me know if you try it out or if you have any questions.

Happy cooking!

Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Quinoa Spinach Wraps

Something I loved about having my in-laws in town at the end of last year is that I got to enjoy two weeks of my mother-in-law’s yummy cooking. She is definitely more focused on healthy eating than I am, which makes this the perfect time to add some new recipes to my collection that not only taste great but are actually good for me too. I have my usual go-to favorites, but it’s always so nice to revamp the same old recipes every now and then to add some variety! She made these delicious quinoa spinach wraps for us for dinner while she was here, and was generous enough to allow me to share the recipe here with you all!

Quinoa Spinach Wraps Header

Look at these wraps. Oh my goodness. So good. I know you’re going to love them as much as we do.

What You Need:
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 15.5-ounce cans pinto or black beans, rinsed
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
16 average sized tortillas or wraps (if you want to get fancy, see my homemade tortilla recipe here)
12 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 3 cups)
salsa, sour cream, and sliced avocado, for serving

The How To:
1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until the garlic is browned and the onions are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the beans and broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 2 to 4 minutes more. Fold in the spinach and the quinoa.

4. Layer the tortillas with the cheddar cheese, followed by the quinoa, spinach, and bean mixture, and top again with more cheddar.

5. Roll them up into burritos. Once they are rolled, heat a tiny bit of oil or nonstick spray over medium to medium high heat, and brown off all sides so the burritos become delicious and crispy.

6. You’re done! Serve them with salsa, sour cream, and avocado. Delicious!

Quinoa Spinach Wraps Close Up

Tip #1: Some tortillas or wraps roll up more easily when warmed. You can heat one at a time in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few seconds until pliable, or heat several at a time between two pieces of damp paper towels in the microwave on high for about 10 seconds.

Tip #2: You can use regular sized tortillas, or fajita sized if you want the recipe to go a little further. The serving size when using a regular sized tortilla would be one burrito, while the serving size when using the smaller tortillas would be two burritos.

Quinoa Spinach Wraps Plate

Something I absolutely love about this recipe is that you can wrap each little burrito individually in tinfoil (before making them crispy!) and then freeze them for quick and easy meals. My mother-in-law says she will just grab one or two out of the freezer when she needs a quick dinner, unwrap it from the tinfoil, and heat it in the microwave for a minute or two, just until the middle isn’t frozen anymore. You can eat it just like that, or heat it in a pan like you normally would for some extra crispiness. Quick, easy, delicious, filling, and pretty darn healthy. Um, yum.

Let me know if you try the recipe! I love to see and hear about how you make it yours. Happy eating!

Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Pasta alla Zucchini

I love zucchini–it’s one of my favorite veggies. I know it’s technically a “summer squash,” but most places you can still get it all year round which I am grateful for, because it’s delicious! Zucchini is jam packed full of vitamin C and potassium and a bunch of other awesome vitamins and such, which makes it a nice addition to a simple pasta plate which usually lacks much substance. I’m sure you all have noticed the pattern my recipes seem to follow…this recipe is quick, easy, and pretty healthy as well. Bonus: it’s also really inexpensive to put together! Let’s get cookin’!

Pasta alla Zucchini Header

What You Need: 
Olive oil
1 medium sized zucchini
1 medium sized (or 2 small) yellow zucchini
1/2 onion
2 generous tablespoons of garlic
1lb of your favorite pasta (I chose linguine)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
dried basil (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
Parmesan cheese, as a garnish

The How To:
1. Bring water to a boil to make your pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions, but make sure to leave your pasta al dente. This isn’t vital to the recipe, but mushy pasta is gross, y’all. Trust me, it’s better this way.
2. While your water is beginning to boil and your pasta is cooking, prepare the zucchini. Over medium to medium high heat, warm about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and dice the zucchini and onions.
3. Generously measure out about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, and sautee until golden. Sorry I don’t have an amount in cloves of garlic–I keep about three pounds of minced garlic in a large jar of oil in my fridge at any given time. Because you never know when you’ll need garlic. (Hint: you always need garlic.)
4. When the garlic is golden, add the onions and zucchini to the pan. Mix well, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can also include the optional red pepper flakes (which I did not use) and the dried basil (which I did use) at this point.
Step by Step collage5. Sautee until the veggies are mostly translucent, but still somewhat crisp. You want them fully cooked, but not mushy and disintegrating.
6. By now your al dente pasta should be finished. Toss it with about two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. You want to coat the pasta so it doesn’t stick to itself.
7. Plate the pasta and top it with the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

See? Mostly healthy and definitely delicious!

Zucchini close upPasta alla Zucchini 1

What’s your favorite way to eat zucchini? Let me know! I’m always looking for yummy new squash recipes.

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, Lou Lou Girls, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

Baked Fish with Breadcrumbs

Do you have certain meals that just bring you back to your childhood? When I was little, my parents would make this dinner every now and then and I absolutely loved it. I’m pretty sure I don’t make it the same way they do (don’t worry…I’m not sharing secret recipes mom and dad), but nevertheless it is delicious. I have been craving fish for the last week or so and when I made this last night it was exactly what I wanted. The topping is crispy, the fish is buttery and flaky–the whole meal is just melt-in-your-mouth amazing.

Baked Fish with Breadcrumbs Header 2

This recipe will work with any white fish which makes it not only a versatile recipe but also potentially very inexpensive! And once again, this is a meal you can make in less than 30 minutes. You know those are my favorite recipes!

What You Need:
3 or 4 fillets of fish, any white fish will do
3 or 4 tablespoons of butter (one for each fillet), plus 1 and a half tablespoons set aside
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
a dash of garlic powder (or fresh garlic…I just was being lazy)
3/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

The How To:
1. Melt the three (or four) tablespoons of butter and mix in the lemon juice and garlic powder. On a baking sheet lined with tinfoil, drizzle the butter mixture over each fillet making sure to coat both the bottom and top of each piece.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Melt the one and a half tablespoons of butter you had set aside, and pour it on top of the breadcrumbs. Using your fingers, work the butter in until the mixture looks crumbly.
3. Generously cover each fillet with the breadcrumbs.
4. Place in the oven at 400°F for 15-17 minutes until the breadcrumbs are crispy and the fish flakes easily with a fork. I cooked mine for 15 minutes and it came out perfectly.

That’s it! Simple, right? Enjoy!

Fish close up 2 Brussel Sprouts close up

PS- These roasted brussels sprouts made a delicious side dish. Cut the brussels sprouts in half, and toss them with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast them at 425°F for 20 minutes and they are perfect!

Open up!

Fish close up

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, Lou Lou Girls, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

Crispy Chicken Nuggets

It has been so long since I posted a recipe! I have a few that I want to share with you all, but when I made these for dinner last night I knew this was the winner I had to share first.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets Header

Don’t these look yummy?! One of my favorite dinners is breaded chicken cutlets, but when I was cooking last night I decided to make things a little more bite-sized which made them a lot more delicious. Each nugget was so crispy and packed with flavor…oh my goodness I’m practically drooling right now just thinking about them. Naturally, we had no left overs. I should have made more. I want them right now!

What You Need:
Oil, for frying (choose whatever kind you’d like)
2 chicken breasts (or the equivalent amount of chicken breast tenderloins)
2 eggs
A splash of milk
Italian style breadcrumbs
Panko
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

The How To:
1. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a pan over medium to medium high heat. I usually start this after I’ve breaded at least half of the chicken because otherwise it always takes me too long and my oil is crazy hot by the time I start frying. No one likes being splattered by flaming hot oil, you know?
2. Cut your chicken into chunks. I made sure to filet the chicken breasts first just to make the pieces all roughly the same size.
3. Scramble the two eggs and the splash of milk to make an egg wash. If you are allergic to eggs or egg intolerant you can use some oil or some buttermilk to do this step instead. Just be aware the coating may not stick as well.
4. Create your breadcrumb mixture by mixing the breadcrumbs, panko, parmesan, and salt and pepper if you feel so inclined. It really doesn’t need it, but some people love their salt and pepper. Who am I to take that away from you? Go for it, friend.
(Also, notice that I don’t have specific measurements for these things? I have never in my life measured this out. Just eyeball it.)
5. Dredge the chicken chunks in the egg mixture first, and then generously coat them with the breadcrumbs.
6. Drop them piece by piece into the hot oil, and fry them until they are golden brown and oh so crunchy. When finished, let them drain on a paper towel so the excess oil is removed.
7. Enjoy your chicken nuggets! You can pair them with the delicious dipping sauce of your choice, or you can opt for a slightly healthier (but still just as delicious!) option and pair them with applesauce. So yummy!

Chicken Nuggets close up

Dinner plate

I hope you all enjoy these as much as we did. Between two grown ups and a one year old, there wasn’t a crumb left!

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

Mongolian Beef, Chicken, and Tofu

First, I just want to say that I know I have been pretty absent for the past week, but it probably isn’t going to get any better this week. My sister is here visiting which means we are out doing fun things! I’m just too busy this week to be able to post consistently. Next week I will (hopefully) be back to normal!

Oh also, I’ve decided I’m just going to combine my July and August favorites because I completely fell behind on that too and with how busy this week is I feel like it’s going to be way too late to play catch up.

Okay, now that all my housekeeping is done…on to Mongolian goodness!

Mongolian Tofu Header

The first time I had P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef I was in love. It became my new favorite dish. Eating out often is way too expensive though, so I decided to find an at-home recipe that was just as good as the real thing.

Doing my research, I realized that most of the Mongolian sauce recipes online were all the same, and to be honest I really haven’t changed it up at all. What I do like to change up is the protein. This sauce is delicious on beef, chicken, and tofu, and I’m sure it would be just as delicious on pork or even just veggies alone. This particular time I made it, I used tofu.

I love making this on a weeknight when I don’t have a lot of time to cook but when I still want a filling, delicious dinner. This recipe is quick (under 30 minutes!) and keeps well for leftovers the next day.

What You Need:
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon oil
2-3 teaspoons of garlic (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (again, to taste)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup brown sugar
3-5 scallions, green parts only

For the protein:
1 pound of your choice of protein
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste

The Sauce How To:
1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat the oil, add the ginger, and saute the garlic until lightly browned.
2. Stir in the soy sauce and water until well combined.
3. Add the brown sugar, mix until dissolved, and allow it to come to a boil for about three minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Protein How To:
1. If using beef or chicken slice into strips. I recommend flank steak for the beef (make sure to cut against the grain!) If using tofu, which is what I used here, cut it into cubes and press it to drain some of the water.
2. Salt and pepper your protein, and then toss with cornstarch so it is lightly coated. Let that sit for about 10 minutes to let the cornstarch stick. If you’re using tofu, you don’t have to wait the 10 minutes.
3. While you’re waiting, you can cut your scallions–green parts only–into inch-long strips. Set them aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan, and cook off your protein until lightly browned. For beef, this only takes a few minutes. You don’t want to overcook it! If you are using chicken, you will want to make sure it is cooked all the way through.
5. Once your protein is browned and cooked, add the sauce to the pan and stir to coat your protein. Let the sauce come back to a boil and then turn off the heat. Add the scallions and mix them in.

You’re done! I usually serve this over white rice, but brown rice is delicious too. If you’re feeling really adventurous I’m sure you could even use quinoa. I’ve also experimented with adding sauteed broccoli for some extra veggie goodness, but that’s totally up to you.

Tofu 1

Note: A lot of recipes I found say to saute your protein in a lot more oil (almost a cup) and then once it is mostly finished cooking, they say to drain the oil and return the protein to the pan. I usually just use less oil to begin with and skip this step.

I hope you enjoy this! Sorry I don’t have step by step pictures (again!). This was kind of a last minute idea for a post after I made dinner last night because I realized I hadn’t posted in a while. Again, I’m aiming to be more diligent with the blog next week. Right now though, I’m off to go hiking!

Linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday and Tuesday’s Table!