Tag Archives: quinoa

Cheesy Sausage Balls

I’m pretty slow to the sausage ball party. I first became aware of these little bites from Trisha Yearwood’s show on Food Network and thought that they would be a perfect little nugget for me considering how much I love sausage (turkey sausage, that is). But since then, I suddenly see sausage balls everywhere – on Pinterest, on the Today show, on my Instagram feed. Well, I figured it was high time for me to jump on the bandwagon and I was especially thrilled when I came across this recipe for Cheesy Sausage Balls which has a little different twist than your standard sausage balls.

Sausage, cheese, and quinoa make up the base of these bites which are perfect for a Thanksgiving appetizer. Instead of baking mix, these balls have cooked quinoa which is so much healthier than some floury mix. Granted, baking mixes are super simple and easier to throw into a bowl than cooking up a batch of quinoa but it only takes fifteen minutes for quinoa to cook so you can do it ahead of time and still have some leftover for another dish later. Plus, quinoa is so much better for you! The quinoa actually adds a bit of texture to these sausage balls, a bit of a pop, if you will. I haven’t tried the sausage balls made with baking mix but I don’t think I need to. I’m perfectly happy with these little guys and I bet you will be too!

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 Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine quinoa, cheese, cornstarch, black pepper and sausage in a bowl.

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Shape mixture into 40 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place balls on a lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

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Bake at 375°F for 18 minutes or until lightly browned and done.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Red Quinoa with Spinach and Dried Cherries

I’ve had a minor obsession with dried cherries lately. And by lately, I mean the last year. When I was in Chicago visiting my aunt last year, she offered me a huge bag of some dried cherries that she’d gotten at a farmer’s market (or something like that, I can’t remember!).  The dried cherries she had were so plump and sweet yet tart and I had to physically stop myself from consuming an embarrassing amount. Now, I grab dried cherries often to have on hand to eat with peanuts or in plain Greek yogurt. Or I just pop them as a small snack.  I came across this recipe for Red Quinoa with Spinach and Dried Cherries and figured it would be another way to try these dehydrated gems.

Red quinoa (or red rice as the original recipe calls for) is cooked and combined with onion, ginger and dried cherries. Spinach and fresh orange juice are added for yet even more layers of flavor to this superfood-filled dish. I found the red quinoa at my local Target (I have yet to find red rice) but regular ol’ quinoa or rice will work. The zing of the ginger, the sweetness of the orange, and the mild tartness of the cherries combine for a real melody of flavors. And with the quinoa and spinach, this dish is good for you!

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Prepare the red quinoa according to package directions in a medium saucepan. (Or if using red rice, combine rice and water in a medium pan, cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.)

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Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and dried cherries; cook, stirring, until the onion is golden brown, about 7 more minutes.

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Stir the prepared quinoa (or rice) into the onion mixture. Add the baby spinach and orange juice and stir until the spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Red quinoa

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Food Network magazine

Roots, Greens, and Shoots Quinoa

Have you been hearing about “superfoods” lately?  Foods that are supposedly the most nutritious food we can put into our bodies?  Well, I have.  The list of the top superfoods can vary by professional or article but I’ve seen enough written on the topic to know that quinoa, sweet potatoes, and spinach are all top contenders.  So when I came across a feature in Cooking Light magazine of different low-calorie quinoa combos, I was drawn to this Roots, Greens, and Shoots combination.

With nothing more than roasted sweet potato, baby spinach, toasted pecans and scallions, this quick meal is about as nutritious as you can get.  If you have a spare sweet potato or some leftover cooked quinoa, you also have a speedy meal.  But if not, either roast a sweet potato in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or buy a super-simple pre-wrapped sweet potato and microwave according to the directions.  Quinoa, which has become an easy replacement for rice in my house, can be cooked in 15 minutes with a 2:1 water ratio.  Although there isn’t any dressing or other flavoring to this dish, you might think this would be pretty bland but on the contrary, the combination of the sweetness in the potato, the crunch of the pecans and the zing of the scallions made this easily one of my favorite quick meals I’ve ever made.  In fact, it’s super.

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The ingredients:

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Combine chopped sweet potato, torn spinach, and sliced scallions in a bowl.

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Top with toasted pecans.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Honey Cashew Chicken

I think I might have found the perfect meal.  For someone who didn’t eat much Asian food as a kid, I have identified Asian flavors as being my favorite thing to make and eat.  When I have nothing else to eat, my go-to is either chicken, rice, pasta or veggies with some kind of soy sauce-rice-vinegar-sriracha sauce.  This Honey Cashew Chicken is exactly right up my alley.  A little bit of protein, a little bit of veggies, a little bit of carbs in a sweet, spicy and salty sauce – Yes!

Bite-sized pieces of chicken are tossed in a light coating of cornstarch and cooked in a hot skillet with canola and sesame oil.  Fresh broccoli, red pepper and edamame are added and stir-fried until perfectly crisp before being mixed with cashews and a perfect concoction of soy sauce, honey and sriracha.  Served with a side of brown rice or quinoa, this will be a meal I will make again and again.

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The ingredients:

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Combine chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl; toss to coat.

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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola and sesame oils. Add chicken mixture, and sauté for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Increase heat to high, and add broccoli, edamame, garlic, onion and red pepper.  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done, stirring frequently.  Stir in cashews.

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Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.   Add vinegar mixture to chicken mixture; toss to coat.

Serve with rice or quinoa.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Onion

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Quinoa Bowl

Have you jumped on the quinoa bandwagon yet?  Well, I have.  And considering my love for rice, using quinoa in place of rice is something I never thought I would agree to.  But these days, I have quinoa on hand and rice is nowhere to be found in my cabinet.  I still love my rice but quinoa is just so darn good for you that I can’t let myself not eat it.  Mixing quinoa with bold flavors, like in this Vegetarian Tex-Mex Quinoa Bowl, is a great way to eat it.

Quinoa takes on the spicy flavors of the taco seasoning very well so even if you aren’t sure if you like quinoa, this is a good way to try it.  Mixed with soy crumbles, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and jalapeño, this quinoa bowl is fresh, spicy, and filling.  I love the texture and flavor of the soy crumbles in this dish.  I started eating soy crumbles when I was a vegetarian but still eat it now in place of meat all the time.  Sometimes I even prefer it in certain dishes over meat (like taco salad and Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper – seriously!).  It’s full of protein and lower in fat, making it a great pairing with quinoa.  But if you don’t want to venture into soyland, feel free to use ground turkey, chicken, or beef in place of the soy crumbles.  Also, if you keep a fully stocked spice cabinet like I do, consider making your own taco seasoning which allows you to control the salt and spiciness of this dish.

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Quinoa Bowl (makes 4 servings)

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine‘s Tex-Mex Rice Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • non-stick spray
  • 1 12-ounce package soy crumbles (such as MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters® Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons packaged taco seasoning (see note) 
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Note: To make your own taco seasoning, mix together 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon sea salt (optional), and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

In a medium sauce pan, add 2 cups water or broth and quinoa.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-22 minutes.  Spray non-stick spray into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add soy crumbles and cook 3 minutes.  Stir in 1/4 cup water and taco seasoning and stir for 1 minute.  Stir in corn and black beans, cook for 1 minute or until heated.  Stir in quinoa, chopped tomato and jalapeño.  Top each serving with 1 teaspoon cilantro.

The ingredients:

In a medium sauce pan, add 2 cups water or broth and quinoa.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-22 minutes. 

Spray non-stick spray into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add soy crumbles and cook 3 minutes.  

Stir in 1/4 cup water and taco seasoning and stir for 1 minute. 

Stir in corn and black beans, cook for 1 minute or until heated. 

Stir in quinoa, chopped tomato and jalapeño.  

Top each serving with 1 teaspoon cilantro.

Sausage-Spinach Quinoa Bowl

I admit that I’m late to the quinoa party. Quinoa recipes are everywhere now and I’d been so curious about this superfood for a while but had never tried it. My grocery store doesn’t carry it so I finally went to another grocery store slightly farther away that always seems to carry whatever it is that my grocery store doesn’t. When the check-out girl saw my bag of quinoa, she asked me if it was good, saying her mom wanted to try it for weight loss. I came home and made a batch just to keep on hand to eat as a side in place of my usual brown rice. Even though brown rice is good for your diet, quinoa is better because it’s a complete protein (meaning it has all of the essential amino acids we need). People say it has a nutty taste but I think it tastes more like corn which isn’t at all what I expected.

I wanted to try a recipe using quinoa in place of rice and since the spinach in my produce drawer was close to going bad and I needed to cook the leftover turkey sausage from the gratin I made earlier this week, the perfect dish to make was Sausage-Spinach Quinoa Bowl. With hot turkey sausage, spinach, and quinoa, this dish came together very quickly since I’d already cooked the quinoa. (Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Bring one part quinoa, two parts water to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.) The spiciness of the turkey sausage pairs terrifically with the bitter spinach and the red pepper flake gives it the slightest hint of kick. The quinoa made for a great substitute for the rice which is exactly what I was hoping it would do. I look forward to making this superfood more in the future!

The ingredients:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook sausage and red pepper over medium-high heat until browned and crumbled.  

Add in garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 

Add in spinach and cook 30 seconds or until spinach begins to wilt. 

Stir in prepared rice or quinoa; cook 1 minute or until heated.

Additions:  None

Omissions: 

  • Parmesan cheese

Substitutions:

  • Quinoa

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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