Quinoa Tomato Mix

I have to confess that I really don't know what to call this. It was one of those nights when I made dinner by throwing a bunch of stuff in the crockpot and crossing my fingers. It's not really a stew, but it's not a casserole either, so I am just going to call it a mix. I generally follow a recipe but tonight I just made this completely by smell - as in I took things out of the fridge, smelled them, and if it smelled like what I wanted dinner to taste like, I threw it in. This, as close as I can remember, is what I put together

By the way, this is a particularly bad picture, but on the other hand, while it tasted really good, I think that red quinoa never LOOKS that good and my camera resents photographing red things.

3/4 cup red quinoa
1/4 cup white quinoa
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips
3 cups water
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup mirin (rice cooking wine)
1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/4 sweet onion, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
a pinch of oregano
a pinch of thyme (I think)

Throw everything into a slow-cooker and cook until it is the consistency that you want. I put mine on high for an hour, then turned it down to low for about 3-4 hours. I am not totally sure about the spices, I added them after the first hour when I tasted it and decided that it needed something.

I am not kidding when I say that I smelled ingredients to see what I wanted to add. It's what works for me. Either the mirin (which I have never used before) or the hoisin sauce gave this just a slight hint of sweetness that I liked but did cut down just a smidge with the spices. I used the mix of quinoa because I wanted to finish up the red quinoa and I used water instead of broth because I didn't have any broth. I used the sun-dried tomatoes because I had them and wanted to use them up. I know that quinoa has a lot of protein on its own, so I didn't need to add the chicken, but I just like this kind of thing better when it has some kind of meat in it, so I added it. I also wanted to see what would happen if I added raw meat instead of cooked and I think it worked well with the water. I think it would have been too salty for my taste had I used the broth instead.

Rating: 4/5
Why? There is something about these sun-dried tomatoes that I didn't particularly care for, I'm not sure why. I did like this dish overall, it was quite filling, and the perfect thing to eat after my first zumba class in over 2 months. In addition, it is quite easy, and I am a BIG fan of that.


Pizza Pita

I have a pretty serious weakness for pizza. I love everything about it - the crispiness, the saltiness, the cheese - everything. But frozen or restaurant pizza generally is really greasy, has slimy vegetables, too much cheese, and it is almost impossible to find one with a whole-wheat crust. I have posted a pizza recipe on here before, but it requires some forethought to make the dough. This one is made on a whole-wheat pita and it was so easy I will definitely be making it again.

2 whole wheat pitas
grated cheddar cheese
grated mozzarella cheese
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1/3 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup corn
1/8 cup pizza sauce

Preheat the oven to 400. Put the two pitas on a baking sheet. Spread the pizza sauce on the pitas as thick or thin as you like. Layer the red pepper, black beans, and corn, then split the cheddar and mozzarella between the two pitas. Bake on 400 for 11 minutes, or more if you prefer it to be more crispy.

This took me 15 minutes from start to finish, including slicing the red peppers. I love how fast this comes together! I just threw on some ingredients I had in the fridge so it would be very easy to modify.

Rating - 4.5/5
Why? I wish I had baked it another minute or so (I adjusted the recipe above) as the center could have been a little crispier. I love that I didn't have to make the dough.


Szechuan Chicken Stirfry

I love stirfry, and the more vegetables there are, the better I like it. I have discovered that I like spicy Asian food better than sweet, and this is pretty spicy. Even better, it's fast. From prep to plate, I spent half an hour making this dish.

1 chicken breast, cubed or sliced thinly
1 tsp black sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 medium cloves of minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp low-sodium tamari soy sauce
2 tsp water
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
2 tsp sesame seeds
chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the chicken in a non-stick pan just until cooked through. Set it aside. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic, broccoli, red pepper, and green onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the broccoli turns bright green. Add the chicken, red pepper and ginger and let it cook for another minute, then add the tamari soy sauce and the water and let it cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add water 1 tsp at a time if necessary. Serve over brown rice and top with sesame seeds and cilantro.

This recipe originally called for mushrooms (which I hate), regular sesame oil (which I didn't have), black sesame seeds (which I couldn't find) and soba noodles (which I didn't feel like stopping to get tonight) instead of rice. It also called for szechuan pepper, but suggested substituting lemon pepper instead. I meant to do this but totally forgot, so I will definitely add that in next time. Without it, I think this is really good stirfry, but with it, I think it would have that little something awesome.

This recipe was quick and easy, which I like. I try to do as much prep work as possible when I get home from the grocery store - chopping carrots and broccoli, washing all the fruit, etc - as I have found I am MUCH more likely to use it when it is already prepared and very unlikely to use it at all if I don't do it immediately after getting home from the store. Having all the broccoli and green onions chopped cut down on the prep time, but it still went quickly.

Rating: 4/5
Why? I really wish I would have remembered to put in the lemon pepper. This was decent stirfry, but I think it was missing something that would have really made this awesome. I love that this recipe was quite spicy and it would be easier to make it more spicy by adding more dried red pepper.