3.03.2014

make-ahead quinoa two ways

So... February wasn't a great blogging month for me, was it? First of all, I struggled to find the time and energy to blog as much as I'd like. For me, blogging isn't about meeting a quota or making sure to always post 2 recipes or 4 posts (or whatever) a week; it's about sharing when I feel inspired. It's about sharing when I feel I have something worthwhile to say or when I make something I just HAVE to get others to make. And, of course, it's about fitting blogging into my life along with my other priorities and obligations, which isn't always easy even when I DO have something I feel inspired to share. Yeah... I didn't do so well with all of that in February.

Then, besides that, Google blogger (my host) decided that they won't honor custom domains anymore. So... as you may have noticed... www.taylormadebytaylorbee.com is no longer working. I was really unhappy when this happened because I didn't get any warning! No time to arrange another host! It just disappeared out of the blue (even when I had paid for my custom domain through June!). Anyway, now I have to scramble to find another domain host, and in the meantime people are having a harder time navigating to my blog. Ah well, it is what it is, and www.taylormadebytaylorbee.com should be back up and running within 2 business days if my new host keeps their promise. For now, I've reverted back to taylormadebytaylorbee.blogspot.com, which should work just fine in the meantime. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Here's to March being a more successful blogging month, how about that? Because the truth is, I DO feel inspired to blog! I've made lots of tasty and healthy recipes lately, I've been trying to up my workout game (I can't act like this doesn't have something to do, in PART, with the wedding and honeymoon being, like, 9 weeks away!), and I've been looking for ways to deal with some struggles that many of you just may experience too: not finding the time to work out regularly; wavering a bit too frequently between nutritious meals and indulgences that leave me feeling kind of crappy; feeling somewhat confused/conflicted about competing nutritional advice; falling into "ruts" in terms of meal prepping.

Let's start with that last one: meal prep ruts. When all else fails, yes, I still manage to meal prep. I bring my lunch just about every day and usually make enough for the entire week on Sundays. More often than not, my lunch is chicken (either spiced chicken or rotisserie chicken meat), brown rice, and either green beans or broccoli. I do enjoy this meal, but..... it can get a little boring. So, how to fix this? How about with a huge bag of quinoa from Costco and a few new recipes?

The first is simple: garlic and onion sautéed quinoa, which makes a great side to chicken or fish.


It's fluffy and flavorful and a little more exciting than plain 'ol brown rice (or plain 'ol quinoa). It's also super simple to make. Pair with chicken and roasted broccoli for a filling, nutritious, protein and fiber-filled lunch. 


The second quinoa recipe isn't a side dish; it's a complete meal on its own! Mozzarella and Truffle Chicken Quinoa Bake with Spinach and Tomatoes. Ohhhh yes. I made this then portioned it into 6 servings that I froze. I LOVE when I do that for myself! Just pull one out of the freezer the day before I need it and I have a healthy and delicious lunch ready to go.  


No, you don't have to bake yours in a heart-shaped pan, but it makes it look pretty cheery, huh? (and yeah, the rest of my baking dishes were full or dirty). 


This is a really easy recipe too, and it's nice that it doesn't require any additional components to turn it into lunch or dinner. It's also full of protein and fiber and will definitely fill you up. Feel free to leave the truffle oil out (i.e., don't feel the need to go buy some if you don't have it), I just get tempted by it every time it catches my eye in the cabinet. The flavor is ridiculously good. 


So, cook up a cup of quinoa then choose your recipe! Either one is totally satisfying, healthy, and tasty. Grab the recipes below:

Sautéed Onion & Garlic Quinoa
For 6-7 servings as a side

Ingredients
-1 cup dry quinoa
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 tbsp butter
-1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
-3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
-1 tsp dried parsley
-Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions
-Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Add to a pot with 2 cups of water (or low sodium, fat free chicken broth). Bring to a boil. Cover (with a tight-fitting lid!), reduce heat, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a fork. 
-Heat olive oil and butter in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. 
-Add the cooked quinoa and the parsley to the skillet. Stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve. 


Mozzarella & Truffle Chicken Quinoa Bake with Spinach & Tomatoes
For 5-6 servings

Ingredients
-1 cup dry quinoa
-5-6 cups baby spinach
-3-4 cups shredded cooked chicken (e.g., from a rotisserie chicken)
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-About 1 cup chopped tomatoes
-2 tsp truffle oil
-4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp dried basil

Directions
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Add to a pot with 2 cups of water (or low sodium, fat free chicken broth). Bring to a boil. Cover (with a tight-fitting lid!), reduce heat, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a fork.
-Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. 
-In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, the cooked spinach (including the remaining olive oil), the cooked chicken, the tomatoes, and the spices. Mix well until evenly combined. 
-Pour mixture into a baking pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Top with fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with truffle oil. 
-Bake at 375 until the mozzarella is melted, about 20 minutes. 

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