Monthly Archives: January 2014

Spinach and Feta Quinoa Cakes with Yogurt Dill Sauce

I have learned from experience that just because something looks good on Pinterest does not mean it’s going to look (or taste!) Pinterest-worthy.

I happened to have some quinoa left over from dinner the night before, so I thought I’d check out my food board to see if I had previously pinned anything I hadn’t yet tried. These quinoa cakes caught my eye, so I figured I would give them a shot. Worst case scenario, we could always order a pizza for dinner. Luckily for me, this recipe from  Panini Happy delivered!

I served these in whole wheat pitas with the yogurt dill sauce and sliced cucumbers and couscous on the side. Delicious!!

Quinoa Cakes

Spinach and Feta Quinoa Cakes with Yogurt Dill Sauce

½ cup plain Greek yogurt, reduced-fat or whole
2 tbsp finely chopped scallions
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 oz chopped baby spinach
2 large eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cups cooked quinoa
2 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp chopped fresh dill
¼ tsp grated lemon zest
½ cup bread crumbs

To make the Yogurt Dill Sauce:

Whisk together the yogurt, scallions, lemon juice, and 2 tsp of the dill in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate the sauce for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

To make the Quinoa Cakes:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium-size bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, quinoa, feta, remaining dill, lemon zest, and about ¼ tsp black pepper and mix well. Mix in the bread crumbs and let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture.
  3. Heat a sauté or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  4. Form quinoa patties about 2 ½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place the patties on the pan, in batches if necessary, and close the lid. Grill the patties until they’re cooked through and browned on the outside, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve warm with yogurt dill sauce.

Butternut Squash, Chicken and Lentil Stew

My friend Jess shared this recipe from Hallmark Magazine with me several years ago, and it’s been a favorite in our house ever since. The hearty flavors make it perfect for a chilly night, and the combination of chicken and lentils creates a protein powerhouse.

The recipe makes enough for us (two adults and a 3 year old) to have dinner and lunch the next day, so be sure to halve it if you don’t need that much.

Butternut Squash Lentil Stew

Butternut Squash, Chicken and Lentil Stew

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
¼ cup flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped sweet onion
2 carrots, cut into pieces
1 large stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup lentils
4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
2 tbsp savory
2 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp sage
2 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp pepper

1. Cut chicken into pieces and dredge into flour, salt and pepper until coated.
2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add chicken, cook until golden on all sides, about 5-8 minutes.
3. Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm.
4. Add the rest of the olive oil to pan. Add carrots and onion, and cook about 3-5 minutes.
5. Add celery and cook about 1 minute or until softened.
6. Add the broth, lentils and spices. Bring to a boil over high heat.
7. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 5 minutes.
8. Add the squash and cook covered about 30-35 minutes or until both squash and lentils are tender.
9. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

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Broccoli Bacon Mac and Cheese

Anyone who has a preschooler can tell you that mac and cheese is one of the main food groups. I am lucky that Olivia is a really good eater, but if she’s ever given the choice of what to eat for dinner (or lunch, or breakfast for that matter), the answer will always be mac and cheese.

So I am always looking for ways to sneak in the healthy stuff. For this Cooking Light recipe, I used veggie pasta and mixed in steamed broccoli. The smoky bacon and creamy cheese make this dish seem decadent while satisfying both a picky palate and a nutrition-minded mama.

Mac and Cheese

Broccoli Bacon Mac and Cheese

8 oz uncooked vegetable elbow macaroni
1 bag frozen chopped broccoli florets (I prefer the steam-in-the-bag variety for convenience)
1 ½ cups 1% low-fat milk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp salt
3 pieces precooked bacon, chopped (like Hormel’s Fully Cooked Bacon)
1 ½ tsp unsalted butter
4.5 oz reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

 

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Meanwhile, steam broccoli according to the directions on the bag.

2. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 1-2 minutes or until crisp. Add butter to pan; swirl until butter melts. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese. Add pasta and broccoli to pan, stirring to coat.

Mac and Cheese

 


Chicken, Mushroom, and Pea Pasta

One of my new favorite frozen shortcuts is the Woodstock Mixed Mushrooms. This organic mixture of shiitake, shimeiji, field, and abalone mushrooms makes any dish seem gourmet when it’s really just as simple as opening up a can or package of regular old button mushrooms.

mushrooms

I love the earthy flavor that these mushrooms give this pasta, and the peas add a nice contract of fresh brightness. The best part is that this meal is straight out of the freezer and kid-friendly, which makes it perfect and doable for a busy weeknight dinner.

Chicken Pasta

Chicken, Mushroom, and Pea Pasta

Frozen grilled chicken strips (like the Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Strips)
1 bag of frozen peas
1 bag of frozen mushrooms (like the Woodstock Mixed Mushrooms mentioned above, though you could use fresh mushrooms as well if you have them)
1 package spaghetti
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
Salt
Pepper

1. Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the chicken and mushrooms and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the frozen peas and sauté for one minute. Add the spaghetti and remaining olive oil and mix well to combine.

4. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, add salt and pepper, and toss pasta.