Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

A large bag of quinoa called my name at Costco a few weeks ago. Probably because if I put it in my cart it would make me look like I was in Costco for the healthy food, and not for the food court frozen yogurt craving I was experiencing after my last OB appointment.  Plus, bringing it home would force me to make some healthier recipes for my family. There are a ton of interesting, and even delicious looking quinoa recipes on Pinterest lately, and I wanted to give some of them a try.

Yesterday at lunch I through together some chicken wraps with leftover BBQ chicken breasts and decided to incorporate some quinoa instead of rice. I toasted the quinoa, sauteed it with some onion and garlic and then added salsa before steaming it to perfection. The result was so flavorful that it inspired me to give it a try it as a casserole for my dinner tonight. The result was this yummy Mexican inspired concoction complete with bubbly Monterey jack cheese. I'm definitely going to make this again...and next time I'll even try to feed it to my kids.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

1 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. diced onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 c. of your favorite jarred salsa
2 c. water
2 eggs
1 c. skim milk
1 c. shredded Monterey or pepper jack cheese plus 1/2 c. more for sprinkling on top
1/2 c. crushed tortilla chips
1/4 c. diced green onions
1/4 c. roughly chopped cilantro
1 small lime
*optional toppings: sour cream, additional salsa, avocado, etc.

In a medium saute pan heat olive oil over medium/low heat. Add quinoa, garlic, and onion, lightly sauteing and taking care not to burn. Add salsa and water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook approximately 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Cool slightly. 

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl beat eggs and milk, combine with cheese and stir into quinoa. Spoon into casserole dish. Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and casserole looks set. Top with crushed tortilla chips and cheese. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese is bubbly and chips are careful not to burn the chips!

Serve warm, topped with scallions, cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and anything else you dream up.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Banana Caramel Coffee Bread with Caramel Glaze

I don't know how it happened since we tend to be Banana addicts in this family, but for the second week in a row I found several overripe bananas sitting on top of my counter. Last weeks bunch got chopped and frozen for smoothies, and this week's bunch seemed to be begging for some baking. I don't know how or why, but the thought of something caramel also popped into my head. As I started gathering my ingredients for the basic recipe I always use for banana bread I decided to substitute a shot of espresso for the apple juice in my recipe and voila...this sophisticated bread was created. I love the balance of's not too much of any one thing, just a delicious rich morning (or maybe afternoon and evening) treat that will pair well with a nice cup of coffee.

Banana Caramel Coffee Bread with Caramel Glaze

2 c.  flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c.  sugar
1/4 c. of butter or margarine softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large bananas)
1/4 c.  sour cream
1 shot of espresso or 3 tbsp. of really strong coffee
1 tsp. of caramel extract (vanilla could also be substituted)
1/8 tsp of finely ground espresso

Caramel Glaze:
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. heavy cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine butter and sugar until blended. Add eggs and beat to combine. Add banana, sour cream, espresso, ground espresso,  and caramel extract. Mix well.

Slowly add flour mixture and beat at a low speed until just combined. 

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour or until a knife or skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

For the Glaze:
Combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Let cool for 5 minutes and then whisk in cream and powdered sugar. If glaze is too thick add extra cream a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Let bread cool to warm and spread or pour glaze over top. I like to do this while bread is warm so that it melts down the side.

Now invite all your friends over for coffee and enjoy!