Quinoa with a Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce

For some, this will sound delicious; for others, a horrendous combination of healthy foods. I wasn’t quite sure what the outcome would be, but wanted to try something completely different from what I’ve tried in the past. As I’m typing this up, I am staring at an empty plate and my taste buds are very happy with the outcome. Try this recipe…I dare you 🙂

Quinoa with a Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes or cayenne, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder and coriander
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded

Bring 6 cups of chicken broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Add chopped squash, onion and garlic to the boiling water.

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Boil for 15-20 minutes until squash is soft and can be forked. Meanwhile, combine quinoa with the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth in a large saucepan with lid. Bring to liquid to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken stock is absorbed.

Using a blender or food processor, cream butternut squash, onion and garlic (do not add any of the stock unless needed).

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If you want, you can set aside some chunks of the butternut squash to add into the quinoa whole. Transfer the creamed squash mixture to a boil and add a splash of coconut milk (about 2 Tbsp). Add spices.

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Here is my guess at what I added: a couple dashes of pepper and salt, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1/8 tsp each: turmeric, cumin, garlic powder and coriander.

Pour squash mixture into the saucepan with quinoa and heat on low. Taste mixture and add additional spices (after in the pan, I added more salt, red pepper, cumin and coriander). Add shredded cheese to the pan and stir to melt.

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Spicy Cashew Chicken Salad

I LOVE chicken salad and throughout the years have had many yummy versions. Tonight I was inspired to through together a handful of flavors and my taste buds are currently enjoying the outcome 🙂 I decided that this would be lunch for the week, so I made a decent amount.

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Spicy Cashew Chicken Salad

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs. Chicken Breast, cleaned and cubed
  • 1 Poblano pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, diced
  • 2 Green Onions, diced
  • a large handful of cilantro, rough chopped
  • juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 1/8-1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mayo

In a large skillet, heat oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and poblano peppers. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and a squeeze of lime juice. Once the chicken is cooked through, drain excess liquid and let cool. (I wanted to eat this quickly so I stuck my chicken in the freezer for about ten minutes). Add the remaining ingredients and mix. I added somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 tsp of cayenne and cumin to my mixing bowl until I got the kick I was looking for; I also used less mayo as I prefer other ingredients to have center stage 🙂

Try this chicken salad and you will never settle for the standard chicken salad again!

Chicken Avocado Enchiladas

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This was my Sunday afternoon food experiment. I was craving something new, but didn’t have much to work with in the house. The result? A definite keeper…I will be making this recipe again in the near future!

The below is based on the amount I made, three enchiladas:

Sauce

  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno diced (I left the seeds in because I like my food spicy)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp each, salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice from 1/2 a lime

Filling

  • 1/4 lb of chicken (I had two chicken tender size pieces)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 cup spinach, rough chopped
  • 4 oz cheese shredded (this is a guess) I mixed pepper jack and mozzarella. Monterey would be good as well.
  • 3 tortillas (I used medium-sized wheat tortillas)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and sauté garlic and jalapenos for about 1 minute. Add flour and continually stir for 1 minute. Add in chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat. Add cilantro and lime.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken in about a tablespoon of oil with the onion. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray the bottom of an 8×8 pan and then put a very thin layer of the sauce in the bottom. Take your tortillas, fill with a third of the chicken/onion mixture, avocado and spinach. Add a small amount of cheese to each, leaving 1/2 of the cheese for the top.

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Place the enchiladas in the pan and cover with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!

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***Notes:

  • This would also be great as a vegetarian dish. Next time I will probably filled with sautĂ©ed mushrooms, onions and tomatoes along with spinach and avocado.
  • Extra avocado, cilantro and sour cream would be great garnishes.

African Peanut Stew

This was my first experience cooking with coriander. I not only loved the flavor infusion, but was wowed by this dishes unique combination of flavors. This is a new favorite! Below is my variation of the recipe:

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large green onion stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1 TBsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro for garnish

Start by cooking chicken in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. While the chicken is sautĂ©ing, put the sweet potatoes in the microwave to cook (don’t forget to poke some holes in the with a fork to let the pressure out) Once chicken is almost done cooking, add onions, ginger and garlic to the pan.

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Now peel and cube the sweet potatoes; add into the pot. Stir to combine.

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Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes. Adjust any seasonings as needed.

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Serve with cilantro.

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Pumpkin Turkey Chili

YUM! Ever since trying a pumpkin chili at a pub in Park City, Utah, I have been itching to attempt it myself. I finally decided to go for it even though a handful of family members thought it sounded awful. Don’t quit reading…they were wrong and recanted after trying the chili. (Well, except for my dad, but he doesn’t have a very refined pallet and wished I had used the pumpkin to make a pie.)

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 15oz can Northern beans, drained
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 jalapenos, diced
  • salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

In a skillet on medium heat, sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add in the cumin and garlic, cooking about 1 minute. Add the ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat is done. In a crock pot (I put all this together while the meat was cooking), combine remaining ingredients. Add the meat mixture into the crock pot and cook on low heat for 2-4 hours.

**Note – I did not have pumpkin pie spice and made my own…sadly I don’t have perfect measurements. I added cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg (more cinnamon, a little less ginger and cloves and even less nutmeg…not helpful, I know.)

I added a good bit of salt, pepper and cayenne at the end to bring the flavor to where I wanted it. I ate it with pumpkin chips one day and pita chips another, both work great with the chili.

I will be making this again in a week or two…it is hands down one of my favorite recipes ever!

 

 

Crock Pot Mediterranean Bean Soup

This soup has an amazing blend of spices that is sure to excite your taste buds. One warning though, be careful the utensils you use while cooking as my black spoon now has a yellow tint…oh well…this recipe is soooo worth it!!

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cups chopped yellow onion or green onion (I have used both)
  • 1 tsp. each – turmeric, cumin, cayenne, chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each – salt, pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/3 cup water
  • 2 1/3 cup dried beans or lentils (I use a 10 bean mix from a local store)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro (more to garnish)
  • 3 cans low sodium chicken broth (I make my own with bouillon cubes)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I’ve used a 14.5 oz. can, but the original recipe calls for a larger can)
  • Avocado & Pita chips for garnish

In a pot, heat the oil and add the garlic and onions until translucent. Transfer into a crock pot on low and add remaining ingredients.

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I let this cook in the crockpot all day…I haven’t cooked ever used dry beans for a recipe before this so I imagine you would need to cook this for at least 4-6 hours.

Serve with avocado slices, cilantro and pita chips. Bring on the winter months…it’s a great excuse to make this yummy recipe!

Penne Pasta with a Garlic Cream Sauce and Basil Pesto Chicken

This dish became an infusion of two separately yummy dishes.

For the pasta portion:

  • 1 box of penne pasta, cooked & drained
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, parsley, garlic powder (to taste)
  • cornstarch, to thicken
  • 1 head of broccoli,
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

The sauce provides just enough to coat and a little extra; if you like extra sauce, I would recommend at least doubling the sauce portion. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add minced garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add heavy whipping cream and cornstarch (mixing with cold water as on the containers directions). Add vegetables and spices, probably about a 1/2 teaspoon of each. Taste test and adjust spices.

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For the chicken & pesto:

  • 1 lb. of chicken sliced or cubed, cooked in about 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 2.25 ounces of pine nuts
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Put all items for pesto in a food processor and blend. Taste and add spices as needed. Add into chicken.

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Dish the pasta with some chicken on top in a bowl and enjoy!