Cheesy Quinoa Bites

DSC_0004

Have you been reading a few of the posts I’ve written?  If so, you’ll remember that I posted about a Quinoa “Mac” and Cheese.  Have you tried it yet? Isn’t it yummy? It really has all the indulgence of macaroni and cheese, but some goodness of the extra fiber and protein from the quinoa.  Since we’ve been on a quinoa kick around here (it is just so nice to be able to buy it in bulk!), I wanted to think of another recipe that I could make that Olivia could eat for lunch while I was at work.  Enter the Cheesy Quinoa Bites.  I know, you’re probably thinking that these are just another spin on the Mac and Cheese – just in smaller ‘bites’ form.  I promise you – although there are some similarities (cheese + quinoa), the addition of some white beans and the absence of the panko crust take it to another flavor dimension..whoa…flavor dimension. So deep.  

These little cheesy quinoa bites are packed full of protein and fiber from both the quinoa and white beans, packed full of nutrients from all the vegetables, and packed full of yummy taste from oh-so-yummy cheese.  Honestly, you can’t lose!  Another big perk is that they’re crazy easy to make and you can easily pop the whole batch in the refrigerator and warmed up.  I haven’t done it myself, but you probably could even freeze them and just warm them up when you and baby are ready to eat them.  Enough typing – let’s get started!

What You’ll Need:

2 cups cooked quinoa (again, for extra flavor, we cooked our quinoa in low-sodium chicken broth)

8 egg whites

1 cup of shredded carrots **

1 (15 oz can of white beans)

2 cups of chopped up broccoli **

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

4-6 teaspoons of garlic powder (you know darn well I’m going to put in way more than this!)

1 teaspoon of onion powder

Parmesan Cheese to top

Cooking Spray (we just used coconut oil and took a paper towel to grease up our mini-muffin tin)

What You’ll Do

Grease up your mini-muffin tin.  Grease up your tin.  

DSC_0001

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients.  

DSC_0002

Portion out the mixture into the mini-muffin tins. They won’t really expand, so feel free to pack up each little muffin “well”!  If you’re cheese lovers like we are, then feel free to sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese on top, or even some more shredded Cheddar cheese.

DSC_0003

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the edges are starting to brown.  Let them cool and pop em out! That’s it! So easy!  This makes about 48 “bites”.  

** ALTERNATIVES **

Honestly, throw in whatever chopped veggies you have! Shredded zucchini? Yup! Cauliflower? Why not? Go veggie crazy!  

Whatever veggies (or even variety of cheese) you choose, you’ll take comfort in knowing you and family are eating something packed full of fiber, protein, and nutrients!  Plus, they’re cheesy so you know they’ll Taste Oh-So-Good!

~ M ~

Advertisements

Meatloaf “Cupcakes”

Hey, what day is it? What day is it? Mike, Mike…what day is it? HUMP DAAAAAAY!  And hump day means that I need to think of what I can prepare Olivia for lunch for the remainder of the week while I’m at work.  I was trying to think of what to make when meatloaf kind of popped into my head.  I remember pinning a Turkey Meatloaf “Cupcake” that Tyler Florence had posted on Parenting.com. [I co-admin on a fantastic closed group on Facebook that is all about “Feeding the Littles” and part of our page includes a Pinterest board that a few of us pin to – feel free to follow our Pinterest board!]  I decided to try out the recipe tonight with the small tweak of adding in diced carrots.  Yes, I know I have said I don’t want to have to sneak in vegetables all the time to baby.  But, I also believe that there is always a place for adding in extra veggies wherever you can – just tell your kid that there’s yummy veggies in it, too!  The recipe also calls for crumbled cornbread (mmm…cornbread), but since we had none on hand, we used regular old breadcrumbs we had on hand from Trader Joe’s.  And the last variation we had on ours – no bacon. I know…that’s the part of the recipe I wanted to keep in! But, again, we didn’t have any bacon on hand – so this will have to do for now!  Next time, bacon for sure!  I thought this recipe was so cute, too, because it has the added option of ‘frosting’ your ‘cupcake’ with mashed potatoes.  Adorable.  

What You’ll Need:

Few tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 cup (a generous 1/2 cup) barbecue sauce (we got the All-Natural BBQ sauce from Trader Joe’s)

1 egg

A few tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

2 Potatoes

What You’ll Do:

Line your cupcake tin with cupcake liners.  

DSC_0067

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  You may want to go ahead and make your mashed potato frosting first so that it has time to cool so you can handle it while you’re “frosting” the cupcakes.  Peel and cube the potatoes.  

DSC_0066

Put it in a pot of salted water and bring the pot of potatoes to a boil.  Boil for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Drain and just mash away.  I added a little milk, a pat of butter, and a sprinkle of garlic powder.  

DSC_0079

I decided not to use any salt (as I normally would in mashed potatoes) since 1) Olivia doesn’t need all that extra sodium and 2) there’s already enough flavor (and sodium) in the meatloaf from the barbecue sauce.  

Next, prepare your meatloaf cupcakes.  Saute your onions and carrots in the olive oil for a few minutes until soft and tender.  Put aside when done.  

DSC_0070

In a large bowl, combine your breadcrumbs and buttermilk.  Wait for about 5 minutes, or until the buttermilk has fully absorbed into the breadcrumbs.  Add in your sauteed veggies, the ground turkey, the barbecue sauce, egg, & parsley.  

DSC_0071

Here comes the fun part (or the gross part, depending on who you’re asking!).  With clean hands, get in that mixture and massage it! Get all in it and make sure it’s mixed thoroughly.  

DSC_0074

Divide the turkey mixture into the cupcake tin evenly.  

DSC_0076

Pop into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the meat is thoroughly cooked.  Let the “cupcakes” cool a bit and then frost with mashed potatoes!  

DSC_0081

DSC_0082

DSC_0083

You’ll definitely want to wait for it to cool a bit, otherwise your mashed potato frosting will kind of…melt a bit.  

And there you have it!  An adorable way to eat some yummy + healthy meatloaf!  

I’m not gluten-free nor do I have egg allergies, but a mom in that Facebook group I mentioned above gave me a great tip. If you’re either allergic to gluten or eggs (or both), just omit the breadcrumbs and eggs. Instead, substitute 1/3 cup flaxseed meal for every 2 pounds of meat. Just dump it in dry into your meat mixture. And voila! A great breadcrumb AND egg substitute!

No matter what route you take – breadcrumbs/eggs or flaxseed meal, it will be a meal your family will enjoy! TJ and I tried one tonight. And trust me when I say…it Tastes Oh-So-Good!

~ M ~

La Stracciatella

Ok. Deep breath. I have a confession to make and it’s not a pretty one.  I, a foodie, have been on a juice cleanse for the past 6 days. Yes, SIX days.  I did not chew a single bite of food.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t actually hungry on my juice cleanse.  But I miss food.  Yesterday was my last day. Hallllelujah! Do you know how difficult it is cooking meals for the family when all you have to look forward to is drinking a bottle of juice that tastes like grass?

Coming off the cleanse, I need to give my tummy a little bit of a rest. Unfortunately, no steaks or fried foods for me.  What can I eat that the family will enjoy, as well?  I figured soup was a safe route to go.  Luckily, TJ enjoys stracciatella soup, or Roman style egg-drop soup, so there were no objections.  Also, it works out perfectly because we made those meatballs this past weekend so we can serve some up if TJ needs a bit more protein with his soup.  

You may be wondering – “Stracciatella, isn’t that an ice cream?”  Why, yes. Yes, it is.  Stracciatella just means “torn apart” in Italian.  The term can refer to ice cream (stracciatella ice cream usually just refers to vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings – chocolate ‘torn apart’), soup, and cheese.  The “stracciatella” in this case refers to the “shreds” of egg mixture in the soup.

Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Sure it does! Go ahead and impress your friends by making them some stracciatella soup.  You don’t have to tell them how easy it actually was!

The soup itself is super easy to make.  Now, if you have the time to make a homemade chicken stock, by all means, go for it! Yes, the stock takes a bit of time and a bit more effort, but your efforts will pay off.  I have included a recipe for a homemade chicken stock below.  Tonight, however, I will be using an Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth (low sodium) from Trader Joe’s. Go Trader Joe’s!  Here we go (and apologies for the photos – it was already nighttime when I made this tonight – so the lighting just sucked).

What You’ll Need:

6 cups chicken stock
3 eggs
3 tablespoons semolina
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, finely chopped
A generous pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

What You’ll Do:

Ready for this easy recipe?  Measure out 1 of the 6 cups of chicken stock and refrigerate so that it is chilled. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring the remaining 5 cups of chicken stock to a boil.

DSC_0008

In a large bowl, combine the cold broth, eggs, semolina, cheese, parsley and nutmeg. DSC_0004

Whisk the mixture until it is well blended.

DSC_0007

Once the stock is boiling, drizzle the egg mixture into the broth, whisking the mixture/broth. Reduce the heat to low while continuing to whisk for a few minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve immediately, topped with more grated cheese if desired. That’s it! A fancy soup with little effort!

DSC_0014

To our soup, I added our meatballs at the bottom of the bowl and ladled some soup on top.  I also added some spinach right before the soup was done for some extra oomph. Too bad you can’t see all the good lil’ egg “drops” in this picture…but it sure was delicious!

**VARIATIONS**

We like our stracciatella soup with spinach. About a minute before your soup is done, just drop in 1 cup of spinach (cut into thin strips).  Yum!  You can also serve this soup with some pastina (“little pasta”) pasta.  Pastina almost looks like rice.  Cook up like you would pasta and then scoop some into your soup bowl. Then, simply pour a serving of soup right on top of the pasta!  We are serving ours tonight, as I mentioned earlier, over the meatballs we made this past weekend.   Though this is traditionally made with a chicken stock, you can always sub out the stock for a vegetarian broth if you’re vegetarian.

Homemade Chicken Stock

What You’ll Need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 pounds chicken wings, backs, and bones
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bunch parsley stems

What You’ll Do:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until smoking. Add the chicken and brown all over, stirring so the chicken doesn’t burn. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the carrots, onions, and celery to the pot and cook until soft and browned. Return the chicken to the pot and add 3 quarts of water, tomato paste, peppercorns, and parsley. Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge the yummy chicken and veggie bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a low simmer until it is reduced by about half (about 2 hours), occasionally skimming excess fat off the top. Remove from the heat, strain, and then press on the solids with the back/bottom of a ladle to get out all the juicy goodness. Stir the stock and set aside. Refrigerate the stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze for up to a month. This yields about 1.5 quarts.

Told you this was an easy soup to make and, more importantly, it Tastes Oh-So-Good!

~ M ~