Bacon and Butternut Pasta with Kale

Friday, November 30, 2012

This fall, some of our CSA boxes have had different types of kale. Kale, a vegetable I had heard lots about, but was unfamiliar with until recently, is all kinds of healthy, and considered to be a power food in terms of health benefits. Not only does it have a plethora of cancer fighting antioxidants, but it's also rich in nutrients that support eye health, and helps to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. It doesn't hurt that the world is on board, and there are an over-abundance of recipes at our fingertips that use this popular veggie.

In a recent CSA box, T and I were excited to find Portuguese Kale - a type not typically available in the U.S. I had thought about making a traditional Portuguese Caldo Verde (green soup), but after seeing some unappealing photographs, decided it just didn't look appetizing enough for me to get excited about testing out that specific international recipe. On the other hand, I also had a big beautiful butternut squash perching on the counter staring me down, so instead, I opted for a healthy untraditional 'comfort food' casserole, and never looked back.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

BACON AND BUTTERNUT PASTA WITH KALE | Yield: 8 servings | Prep: 1 hr. | Total Time: 2 hr. 15 min.


5 C peeled, cubed butternut squash (1 Large squash in bite-sized cubes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
12 oz uncooked ziti, rigatoni, or other short pasta
4 C chopped kale (1 bunch - whatever type you have on hand will work)
6 bacon slices, crumbled
2 C vertically sliced onion
1 tsp kosher salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 C fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp crème fraîche
1/3 C shredded Swiss cheese

NOTE: Crème fraîche is usually found near the heavy cream, half & half, and whipping cream at the grocery store. If you are unable to find it, it can be homemade 12 hrs. in advance using a mix of heavy cream and buttermilk, and stored for up to one week in the refrigerator. Click HERE for the recipe.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube squash into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil to coat, and arrange in a single layer on an aluminum covered baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender (roasting the squash prior to mixing with the other ingredients will help it to maintain the cubed shape without breaking apart).

NOTE: This will be the most time consuming portion of the entire recipe. If you have any tips for easy ways to peel uncooked butternut squash, by all means PLEASE SHARE.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble.  Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 tsp salt and garlic; cook 1 minute.

Cook pasta 7 minutes, or until almost al dente, do not add extra salt. Add chopped kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

Bring 1 3/4 C broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 C broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche.

Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat. Place pasta mixture in a 9x13" glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with swiss cheese, and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is slightly browned.

This recipe was absolutely delicious, and the flavors melded together wonderfully. On another positive note, the recipe made enough that I was able to freeze some to pull out later for a quick meal!

Have you jumped onboard the kale train?

Ginger Pecan Pumpkin Muffins

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hi everyone! I hope you had a fabulous holiday weekend and had the opportunity to eat lots and lots of delicious food! The last several days have been jam packed with some serious travel, the closing of the college football season, and quality time spent with friends and family. What more could a girl ask for?

My contribution to the holiday weekend came in the form of Ginger Pecan Pumpkin Muffins. I'm always a fan of trying out unexpected ingredients, and crystallized ginger was just the ticket. It adds a little 'this feels like something I'd find at a fancy restaurant' and combines with the crunchy familiarity and nuttiness of chopped pecans. Yes, these taste as delicious as they look.

After gathering the ingredients and mixing everything together, bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

These little babies came out of the oven looking phenomenal. Is your mouth watering yet?

Allow to cool on a wire rack before OPERATION DEVOUR ensues.

Recipe adapted from The Year In Food

GINGER PECAN PUMPKIN MUFFINS | Yield: 12 muffins | Total Time: 45 min.


2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 C pumpkin puree (unspiced, unsweetened plain puree)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C nonfat Greek yogurt
2/3 C chopped pecans
1/3 C chopped crystallized ginger

NOTE: Crystallized ginger can be found in the bulk health foods section of a grocery store, and at most organic food stores. You can also order it from an online spice store, or make your own with fresh ginger using THIS RECIPE.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree with the beaten eggs, olive oil and yogurt. Whisk thoroughly.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until just combined.

Combine the chopped pecans with the crystallized ginger. Reserve 1/4 C for topping the muffins, and fold in the remaining mix to the muffin batter.

Grease muffin tin or use muffin liners, and divide batter equally. Top each muffin with some of the remaining pecans and crystallized ginger.

Bake about 25-30 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Hawkeye Football Senior Day 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ahhh...Senior Day is upon us at the University of Iowa, and with it, the end of  the 2012 Hawkeye Football season. T & I thoroughly enjoyed our time spent at The University of Iowa, and make a habit of sporting Black & Gold wherever we are - you would not believe the national and international following of the Iowa Hawkeyes! I can't begin to express how proud I am to be an alumni of this wonderful university, and have not only one, but two brothers who played on the Hawkeye Football team. I've had soooo much fun watching their games over the past six years and cheering for the Hawks at home, away, and bowl games. I found myself tearing up a little at the end of this year's last regular season game. It was the last time that my brother N would run off the field at Kinnick stadium wearing the black and gold uniform of the Hawks, and I'm just so proud of all the hard work and effort both he and my brother T, who graduated last year, have put in over the years while all I had to do was show up to a tailgate and cheer my best at the games. Iowa Football, for me, will never be the same without #45 and #29 on the field.

La daa da da da da da da daa...GO HAWKS!

Cranberry Salsa Cream Cheese Dip

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Trails Part 3. This holiday season, I bring you Cranberry Salsa Cream Cheese Dip. Otherwise known as the perfect 'in season' salsa of Autumn. Lately, I have been a little in love with these delectable little morsels of deliciousness. Living in Wisconsin, there has been an abundance of local cranberries available. During the fall, Wisconsin is the home of many cranberry festivals, including the Warren's Cranberry Festival, proclaimed to be the largest cranberry festival in the that's a pretty big deal.

Needless to say, cranberries in Wisconsin are right on par with cheese in Wisconsin, and are a source of pride for the state. Hence the need to try many, many recipes with fresh cranberries this time of year. On another note, did you know about all the amazing health benefits that cranberries provide?

Step 1: Gather the ingredients.

Step 2: Put cranberries in food processor and chop.

Step 3: Combine all ingredients and store in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Step 4: Soften cream cheese and spread on an appetizer platter.

Recipe from Jamie Cooks it Up

Step 5: Top cream cheese with cranberry salsa and serve immediately.

CRANBERRY SALSA CREAM CHEESE DIP | Yield: 15 servings | Prep: 15 min. | Total Time: 15 min. prep + 4 hr refrigeration


1 12 oz package fresh cranberries
1/4 C green onion, chopped
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno
3/4 C sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp lemon juice
dash salt
2 8 oz packages cream cheese


Place cranberries in a food processor - chop approx. 5-10 seconds. If you do not have a food processor, you can cut into small dice by hand.

Chop green onion, cilantro, and jalapeno into small pieces. Remove jalapeno seeds before chopping.

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Mix together, cover and store in the fridge for 2-3 hours to allow the sugar time to soak into the cranberries and break up the bitter taste.

Soften cream cheese at room temperature for 20 min prior to serving. Spread evenly on an appetizer platter, and top with cranberry salsa.

NOTE: if your cranberry salsa is watery, use a strainer to eliminate the extra juices prior to topping the cream cheese.

Serve immediately with your cracker of choice, or leave out the cream cheese and scoop the salsa onto your chips or crackers. The salsa would also be delicious on a turkey sandwich or with fish.

What are your favorite holiday hors d'oeuvres?

Simple Roasted Turkey

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Trials Part Two. Today I bring you Turkey. Turkey holds such prominence on Thanksgiving Day that many of us have dubbed the day Turkey Day. The President even gets in the spirit and pardons a National Thanksgiving Turkey in honor of the day! Talk about a lucky gobbler!

For this trial, I chose the most basic turkey recipe I could find. I didn't want anything too technical, and I didn't want to spend multiple days getting the turkey ready to cook. No brining or frying for me! (Not only do those options take much longer, but they can also be very unhealthy - A.K.A. lots of added sodium if using a brine, and lots of added fat if frying.) Holidays bring with them enough butter, sweets and sodium that there is no reason to add any additional calories to the turkey than absolutely necessary.

Recipe from Food Network 

SIMPLE ROASTED TURKEY | Prep Time: 30 min. | Total Time: 3 1/2 hours


Frozen turkey (I prefer 10-12 lb turkey for the best flavor)
Salt & Pepper
Herbs (Thyme, Sage, etc)

NOTE: Adjust ingredients to accommodate whatever size turkey you have. For more great information about choosing the perfect bird, CLICK HERE.


Step 1: After choosing a turkey, the first step is to defrost. There are a few different options for how to thaw a turkey, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, I went the 'in the fridge' route which is the safest way to defrost a turkey according to the U.S.D.A. If you plan to use this method, keep in mind it will take a few days, and adequate fridge space. On average, plan to allow 24 hours for every four to five pounds. To speed the process, you can use a cold-water bath to help thaw the turkey more quickly.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out with water and remove the giblets. Giblets typically include a neck, and a bag with heart, liver and gizzard. You may have to search around a little to find it. If you are the adventurous type, these morsels are all edible and 'supposedly' delicious. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, and season inside and out with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan and add aromatics (chopped onion, apple, lemon, garlic, carrots, herbs) to the cavity. Brush turkey with melted butter and sprinkle with chopped herbs. NOTE: For added flavor, put some of the butter and herbs under the turkey skin to get the flavors closer to the meat.

Step 4: Tent with foil and roast for 2 hours (for a 10-12 lb. turkey; add an extra 15 mins. per lb. for larger birds). After 2 hours, remove the foil, baste with more butter, and crank the heat up to 425 degrees for the final hour, or until the meat at the thigh registers at 165 degrees. This will give your turkey that beautiful browned color.

Step 5 : Pour yourself a glass of wine, and find someone else to carve the turkey!

Turkey carving time!

Wine time for me!

This recipe was super simple, and didn't take a lot of time or effort, but still created a turkey that looked and tasted wonderful. In future endeavors, I will probably branch out and try something more exotic like using a brine, smoking the turkey, or testing out flavor injectors. For now, however, I plan to stick to the basics.

How do you cook your Thanksgiving turkey?

Quick Homemade Dinner Rolls

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Welcome to the Holiday Trials! As a relatively young chef in terms of years spent in the kitchen, I believe when it comes to cooking for others, it's always a good idea to try out the recipe before sharing. So far, I've been relatively lucky with most of my kitchen creations. I'd like to think I'm a natural born chef, but in reality, my luck probably comes from the many years I spent at home watching my mom and extended family members preparing weeknight and holiday dinners. If I'm being completely honest, I might also credit the many hours of cooking shows (Chopped, No Reservations, Iron Chef, Top Chef, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, etc.) that I've watched, and my willingness to try foods and flavors that I didn't grow up around.

The latest holiday trial I tackled was homemade dinner rolls. Rolls have been one of my favorite staples from the holiday table for as long as I can remember. My mom has an amazing recipe passed down through generations that I will one day try to conquer. Today, however, is not that day. Those rolls must be kneaded by hand, and rise overnight. I'm currently all about quick and easy recipes, and was delighted to come across this recipe that takes only an hour  and ten minutes to complete.

Recipe from Mommy's Kitchen

QUICK HOMEMADE DINNER ROLLS | Yield: 12 servings | Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min.


3/4 C milk
4 Tbsp butter
3/4 C hot water
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4-4 1/2 C flour (divided)
1 T instant yeast (heaping)


Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Combine milk and butter in a microwave safe container. Microwave for 1 min. 30 sec.

Transfer milk and butter mixture to the mixing bowl of a Kitchen Aid Mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add hot water, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Mix on low speed for 1 min. until combined.

Switch to dough hook attachment. With the mixer on, add yeast, and the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time. Adjust the flour until dough no longer sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed for 5 min.

After 5 min., cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 min. (The plastic wrap helps to trap the heat.)

Meanwhile, coat the inside of a 9x13 pan with butter. Spray the counter or a cutting board with cooking spray, and transfer the dough from the mixing bowl to your work space. Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut dough into 12 equal sized pieces, shape into rolls, and place in the 9x13 buttered pan.

TIP: CLICK HERE for a great video on shaping dinner rolls.

Transfer the pan to the oven. Let the rolls rise for about 20 min. at 170 degrees. Leaving the pan in the oven, turn the heat up to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 15 min. Bake until the tops are golden brown.

Remove the rolls from the oven, brush with softened butter, and serve warm.

These dinner rolls turned out super yummy, soft and fluffy. They work great as a compliment to a holiday meal, or as a bun for a leftover turkey sandwich. Enjoy!

Do you do a test run before serving holiday dishes to your guests?

The Thanksgiving Table

Friday, November 16, 2012

With holiday season right around the corner, and Thanksgiving less than a week away, you can almost feel the excitement in the air. Some are still in the full swing of Fall with pumpkins, scarecrows and Indian corn, while others are outside hanging Christmas lights and picking out trees. I, for one, am a firm believer that Christmas decorating should wait until after Thanksgiving. Let's show some respect for those Pilgrims and Indians people!

This year for Thanksgiving, I kept it pretty simple, and stuck to a fabulous homemade dining table centerpiece. My inspiration came from some great ideas I'd stumbled upon via a Pinterest link and decorating magazines. The first task was to find a long wood box that would work as the base of my centerpiece. I knew I wanted something rustic that would flow seamlessly with my other decor, and I knew the perfect place to find it. Enter: my brothers. Lucky for me, they have been majorly into woodworking lately, and my tiny little project of hammering together and staining a couple pieces of wood would be no trouble for them at all. 

After getting the box plan squared away, I set out on a search for supplies. I was reminded of all of the ridiculously TACKY faux leaf garlands and wreaths on the market. NOTE: Unless you can afford the expensive versions that come from a floral designer, don't waste your money. Period. 

That being said, using small, simple picks is a great way to escape the doom of your decorations coming off as tacky, and is usually a more economical option as well. Depending on what I am decorating, I usually keep to the more natural looking picks (AKA no faux leaves), and choose a select few that have some *sparkle* to add some interest.

Lesson: everything in moderation can go a long way when it comes to fake decorations.

The Autumn inspired items I used were a mix of real and faux pieces. The mini gourds and pumpkins are real, and came from the produce section at Walmart. Most craft stores have similar looking faux gourds and pumpkins if you're unable to find the real thing. 

The decorative picks, greenery and dried pinecones came from Hobby Lobby. After spending many minutes perusing the greenery aisle, I decided on boxwood. Live boxwood is naturally waxy looking to begin with, so using a fake version doesn't look too out of place.

To get the look I wanted, it was important to me to create depth and dimension in my centerpiece. I accomplished this by using candles in different heights and styles to create the look. 

Now all I need is I to find someone to cook me a Thanksgiving meal! 

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yum. Yum. Yum. That's my thoughts about Thai Coconut Chicken Curry... A.K.A. the latest creation to come from my kitchen. I'm all about trying recipes from other cultures, and I'm lucky to have an adventurous husband who is as excited and willing to try new flavors and foods as I am. So far, we haven't had to resort to any take-out, so I count that as a success! It's so interesting to see and taste how the rest of the world (outside the midwest United States) eats. Luckily most of my adventures into international cooking have concluded with positive results.

Recipe adapted from recipris
Step 1: Gather the ingredients. Coconut milk and Thai curry can be found in the Asian or international food sections of most grocery stores.

I just love wok cooking! Woks are one of those kitchen items that takes up a great amount of room, but are worth keeping around for a quick stir fry or more adventurous meal like this one.

THAI COCONUT CHICKEN CURRY | Yield: 4-6 Servings | Prep: 15 min. | Total Time: 30 min.


3 Tbsp olive oil
2 C chicken, diced into 1-inch cubes (3 breasts)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 Cans light coconut milk (13.5 oz. each)
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 C sliced mushrooms
1 C chopped white/yellow onion
1 C broccoli florets
1 C chopped red bell pepper
20 snap peas
4 Thai basil leaves
1/4 C chopped unsalted cashews

NOTE: If you'd like to kick up the heat a notch to balance out the sweetness of the coconut milk, add 3-4 tsp red pepper when adding coconut milk.


In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat. Lightly season diced chicken with salt and pepper and saute until golden. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a wok, heat 2 Tbsp oil on medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, cooking until light brown (about 30 seconds). Stir in curry paste.

Whisk in coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce and lime juice. Turn heat to medium-high and add veggies, cooked chicken, and basil leaves.

To serve, garnish with chopped cashews and basil leaves.

Serving suggestions: Serve with a side of couscous or a bowl of rice.

Have you tried cooking any international dishes in your kitchen? 

Weekend Recap

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ahhhh wonderful you are, but how I wish you were longer. Over the weekend, T and I made the trek to Iowa City for the Iowa vs. Purdue game at Kinnick Stadium. It was a Veterans Day affair, and to show our thanks and support, the University had 250 Vets at the game to roll out a GIANT American flag that engulfed the entire field. Seriously neat stuff. I should probably mention there was also a flyover. Cool, but will never be able to compete with THE FLYOVER from the 2010 Ohio State Game. Now THAT was amazing.

The weather was absolutely beautiful except for a tiny 2 minute rain shower during the game, and temps were in the 70s. Not much more you can ask for during the middle of November in the midwest. Unfortunately, this was the last game of the year for T, and although the game was close, the Hawks weren't able to pull off the win, and lost 27-24. We did get a chance to fit in a stop at one of our favorite sushi restaurants in town, 3 Samurai, meet up with some friends we don't see too often, and enjoy the tailgating, so the trip wasn't a complete loss.

On another note, it was pretty much a blizzard here in La Crosse today when I looked outside this morning. Unreal how we can go from having absolutely wonderful weekend weather, to having some serious snow 2 days later. I really hope this is not a sign for the coming winter!

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Hawkeye Tailgating Essentials

Friday, November 9, 2012

Heading into the weekend, I thought I'd share with you a few of my essentials for tailgating season. We're down to the last two home games of the year for Iowa football, and the colder weather has me dreaming of chili and warm hot chocolate to help ward off the chill of the impending early morning tailgate. 

While I enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie of bonding over a folding table filled with food and a cooler full of beverages, one of my favorite things about game day is seeing what my fellow Hawkeyes have come up with for a tailgate spread and the awesome people watching. It is my opinion that someone should really come up with an I Spy or Scavenger Hunt game for tailgating. On my version would be things like:

Grilling - Flippy Cup Tournament - Playing Catch - TV at a Tailgate - Open Fire Pit - Etc

What would you include?

Iowa Hawkeye Tailgate Essentials

If you are interested in finding out where to purchase any of my Iowa Hawkeye Tailgate Essentials, you can just click on the little images above and you be will redirected to the store. 

What is on your essentials list for tailgating?

The Presidential Election

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Happy Hump Day! We've made it halfway through the week, and my what a whirlwind of a week it has been! Yesterday was election day, and America has voted to keep Barrack Obama as our nation's leader for 4 more years. T & I spent the entire evening watching election coverage as the votes came in, and shaking our heads at some of the politicians and commentators who really just don't understand the concept of treating everyone fairly regardless of gender, race, social standing or beliefs.

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I would like to state something I'm thankful for in regards to election season. I am SO THANKFUL to have grown up in a family that did not push their individual beliefs about politics onto me. I understand that many people like to be vocal about their political standings with their friends and families, and that is your right. I am so very thankful however, that I was able to make my own informed decisions based on my personal experiences, values and beliefs. As an American, I value my freedom and the right to vote for whatever party I choose to favor whether that be Democrat, Republican, Independent or Other. Part of what makes us the unique wonderful individuals we are, is having the opportunity to make our own decisions. 

Did you get out and vote?

Exploring Grandad's Bluff and Hixon Forest

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Ours was relatively uneventful, and most of it was spent watching endless amounts of football. Originally, we'd thought of traveling to Bloomington, IN for the Iowa vs. Indiana game, but after learning that the forecast was rain, and the trip would take us over 9.5 hours, we decided to stay home.  It was a tough weekend for the Hawks, and Iowa lost to Indiana 24-21 after a hour and half rain delay (not a common occurrence for college football). Sad day...

In other news, T and I recently went exploring in La Crosse, and found ourselves on top of the bluffs for a beautiful late afternoon walk in Hixon Forest, and watching the sunset from Grandad's Bluff. If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend checking out the Bluff if you get a chance. It's so unique to see the city from such a different vantage point.

A beautiful fall afternoon walk through Hixon Forest.

This part of the forest seems very Little Red Riding Hood to me. Looks like the perfect spot for the big bad wolf to hide!

 Can you find us?

T and I at Grandad's Bluff looking out over La Crosse.

A view from the top.

Sunset. Maybe my favorite picture of the day. Gorgeous.

 Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November has arrived! What could possibly be better on a cool fall day than a warm bowl of chili? Thinking...thinking...thinking...That's right, not a thing. Unless, of course, you can find yourself on an exotic vacation in the tropics. Now that would probably be better than a bowl of chili. For most of us though, that just isn't in the books, and we decide to settle for some cozy home cooking instead.

In our most recent CSA haul, we had many sweet potatoes to use up, so I searched and searched for a new recipe to try out. I came across an intriguing recipe for Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili on Pinterest, and decided to give it a go.

Recipe adapted from Milk Free Mom

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-Wah, is a relatively new food for me. I originally heard of it through vegetarian cookbooks and health food magazines. I can now say that it has become much more mainstream as I keep seeing recipes popping up via Pinterest, blogs, and conversations with health food lovers.

Quinoa is a grain-like crop grown for it's edible seeds. It is an excellent source of protein, and is also gluten and cholesterol free, making it a darling of people following a healthy diet. It is available in health food markets, and in the organic section of most grocery stores. Quinoa has become so popular in fact, that the United Nations has dubbed 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. Pretty impressive!

VEGAN QUINOA & SWEET POTATO CHILI | Yield: 6 Servings | Prep: 5 min. | Total Time: 35 min.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 6 oz can tomato paste
32 oz vegetable stock
2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1 C dry quinoa
salt & pepper to taste
water to your liking for consistency
avocado, cilantro, mexican cheese for garnish (optional)


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until translucent and starting to brown (about 10 min.). Add garlic and cook 2 min. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook 2 min. stirring constantly. Add black beans, sweet potatoes, vegetable stock, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 min. then add quinoa.

Continue cooking 25-30 min., stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked, and the chili has thickened. Add water if chili becomes too thick for your liking. I probably added about 1 C for the consistency shown above.

Garnish with avocado, cilantro, mexican cheese to serve.

This quick and healthy dinner option was very easy to make, not very time-consuming, and very filling. It will keep for several days in the fridge, or can be frozen for up to one month. The second day chili reheated was even tastier after the flavors had a chance to meld together overnight in the fridge. I hope you like it as much as we did!

Have you ever cooked with quinoa?

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