Recipe: Super Tasty Quinoa Dinner

FullSizeRenderMy little neighborhood in Queens was buried under over two feet of snow yesterday- so I rummaged through the pantry to look for something to eat, as one does in such a situation. I like quinoa, but if it’s cooked with just water it can be pretty bland and I need some flavor in my life. Allow me show you how I like to cook it.

Sauteing your peppers and onion first to get them caramelized, as well as using tomatoes with jalapenos adds a lot of flavor. Feel free to use plain tomatoes if you don’t enjoy a little heat, but you should try it, it’s really quite mild and adds a little zing! On the flip side- if you want to intensify the bite add in a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne to the onion mix when you add the garlic. Yum!157c4d87-b21d-437f-af5b-519d8117dd55

Directions- Makes approximately 5 cups

1 tsp olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 small bell pepper, seeded and diced (red, yellow or orange)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14.5oz) Del Monte Petite Cut Tomato with Jalapeno

vegetable/chicken stock or water

1 cup quinoa

salt pepper to taste


3 cups fresh spinach, rinsed, trimmed and roughly chopped


In a medium sized saucepan add the olive oil, red pepper and onion. Cover and sweat the onions for two or three minutes until the onions are translucent. Uncover and saute until veggies start to get a little bit of color, approx. five minutes. If it starts to get too dark, too quickly, turn down the heat and splash in a little stock to de-glaze the pan.

While that cooks- drain the canned tomatoes, reserving the tomato liquid in a measuring jug. Top off the liquid to 1.5 cups with stock or water.

**Add the minced garlic to your pan and saute for a minute more to cook the garlic slightly.

Add the liquid and tomatoes to the pan, bring to a simmer. Add the quinoa, lower heat, cover and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Turn off the heat. At this point you can add the optional spinach (I didn’t have any this weekend, and I’m not going to tromp through three foot snowdrifts to get some 🙂 so there aren’t any in my pictures, but I normally would add it) add the spinach to the pot and put the lid back on for two or three minutes minutes to wilt the spinach. Fluff with a fork.

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Salt and pepper to taste, chop up a bit of cilantro to garnish if you’re into that sort of thing- which I am. This is one of my favorite sides with a nice grilled fish or chicken, and it’s hearty enough to have as a vegetarian main on it’s own or with the addition of some grilled tofu.

**note- the reason that I don’t add the garlic at the beginning is because I like to caramelize the onion and pepper to get the fullest flavor possible and minced garlic would burn and taste bitter well before any browning would happen.

Naan Pizza

naan pizza

A couple of weeks ago Florrie came down to the big city for a visit and we put together this scrumptious pizza for our dinner. We wandered around the market looking for delectable things to turn into a pizza, and we came up with this-

Per 1 individual pizza:

1 piece of Naan Bread

3 tbsp marinara sauce (I prefer Francesco Rinaldi)

1/4 cup Yellow Pepper – sliced

5 or 6 thin slices Red Onion

2 tbsp Tomato & Basil Chevre  (goat’s cheese) – cubed

1/2 Thin & Trim Chicken Sausage Spicy Italian flavor – sliced

Handful of Arugula

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the bread on a baking sheet.

Spoon sauce on top and spread evenly.

Sprinkle pepper, cheese, and sausage on top. Reserve arugula till after pizza is baked.

Bake the pizza until the Naan has started to brown on the edges a bit, and everything is warmed through. Approx. 15 minutes.  But keep an eye on it, at such a high temperature it could burn quickly. Thin & Trim brand sausage is fully cooked so you don’t need to worry about it cooking through.

Remove pizza from oven, sprinkle with a healthy handful of arugula, cut the pie and eat!




Chicken Meatballs

These are quick and easy to make. A less fatty alternative to pork, but are still moist and tender. Great for making a head and freezing, perfect served with and alfredo or marinara sauce.

1 pound ground chicken

2/3 cup  cooked cous cous

1/2 large white onion

2 garlic cloves

2 rashers of thick cut bacon

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried jalepeno flakes

Salt and Pepper

Heat the over to 350°

Chicken meatballsFirst I get my cous cous going, so that it can cool a little before I need it. I use Near East brand  for a couple of reasons, It cooks up  super fast and it comes in a lot of flavours. I like the herbed chicken in this recipe because it layers the chicken flavour and gives the meatballs more depth. Which is the same reason I make it with chicken stock instead of water. I  prefer cous cous to bread crumbs as  I think it results in a moister ball.

Chicken meatballsThe chicken stocked and flavour packet came to a boil, I added in the cous cous, gave a quick stir, removed it from the heat, put the lid on and left it for 5 minutes. Now fluff and loosen the cous cous with  a fork while it’s still warm and put it one side.

Chicken meatballsNext cut the bacon into lardons and brown in a pan until crisp. While they are cooking, get everything else together

Chicken meatballs Put the ground chicken into a bowl

Chicken meatballsChop the onion half and add in to the chicken

Chicken meatballsCrush the garlic cloves and add

Chicken meatballsSprinkle on the seasonings and squeeze in the tomato paste

Chicken meatballsOn goes the bacon…

Chicken meatballs

…And the warm cous cous. Now’s the time to get messy or use a fork to thoroughly combine everything. After all the ingredients have been mixed I take a little bit and fry it up to check the seasoning.

Once I know it tastes good I…

Chicken meatballsI roll them into balls, each ball is about 2 tablespoons worth of mix. A cookie dough scoop is great for this job

Chicken meatballsIn a couple of teaspoons of olive oil I brown the meatballs in a pan on the stove top. Then I transfer them into a baking dish, cover them with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, to make sure they are cooked all the way through.

When you take them out of the oven you can either serve them or let them cool and freeze them.