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Confession: up until recently I had never cooked quinoa. I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it. Was it more of a grain? A rice? A pasta? What exactly should I put it in?

I don’t know why I was so apprehensive about it, because as it turns out, quinoa is pretty awesome. If you can make rice, you can make quinoa.

I stumbled across this recipe for a vegan quinoa chili and it looked simple and intriguing. Turns out, it was also delicious.

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Confession number 2: I didn’t make it vegan. I added in spicy sausage. And topped it with cheese. I do not regret these decisions.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili
Adapted from Milk Free Mom

Ingredients:

1/2 pound spicy sausage
one 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
one 6 oz can tomato paste (or if you’re out like I was, about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce)
32 oz chicken stock
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup dry quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, cilantro, cheese for garnish  (optional)

Directions:

In a medium pan, crumble sausage and cook until browned. Drain grease and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste/sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic powder  and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, sausage and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper.

Raise heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about  30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Top with garnishes.

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This chili surpassed my expectations. It was SO good! I’m glad I added the sausage, though, as I think it might not have enough kick without it. If you’re looking to keep it meat-free, I might suggest adding a small can of diced chilies, or a small jalapeno. We put away about five servings and I froze at least two, so it makes plenty!

Happy eating!

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Y’all. This pie.

Some friends and I had a girls’ night a few weeks ago where we stuffed our faces with calorie-heavy food and wine. Stretchy pants were mandatory, obviously. My contribution was ham and cheese-stuffed pretzel bites (recipe to come!) and this peanut butter chocolate chip pie.

It was a big hit. Friends raved about its light texture and delicious flavor and I was impressed at how easily it came together. Best of all, it’s a refrigerator pie, so after it was all mixed up all I had to do was toss it in the fridge for a few hours.

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The original recipe calls from a homemade graham cracker crust, which is probably pretty good. I happened to have a pre-made shortbread crust on hand, so I used that instead. Truth be told, I think I probably would like it better that way. Peanut butter and graham cracker makes me think of toddler food.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie
Adapted from Growing Up Gabel

Ingredients:

  • 1 ready made shortbread pie crust
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • ¾ cups mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract using a hand held beater. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture, folding in gently until combined.
  4. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread peanut butter mixture into crust. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

The pie is rich in flavor, yet light in texture. It’s decadent enough to feed a bunch, too, since we all found one slice was more than enough. It’s equally delicious in the morning (not that I would know or anything…)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie. Owen tested AND approved.

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Enjoy!

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Despite the fact that it’s 60 degrees here today, it really is winter and winter food means all things hearty and warm. I’m a big fan of lasagna, but I’ve never been big on assembling it. All the components take a while to make and it’s messy to layer and then if we don’t finish it right away, it tends to get soggy in the fridge.

Enter: Lasagna Soup. I’m pretty sure this is one of my earliest pins, and also one of my favorites. It has all the things I love about lasagna, but half the work.

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Tomatoes, meat, noodles, spice, cheese. And then some more cheese. Nom.

Lasagna Soup – Adapted from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Check out the link for the full recipe, but here are the changes I made:

- I don’t like too much onion flavor, so I used just half of a large yellow onion, not 3 cups. I found it to be plenty.

- Omitted the bay leaves because I never have them on hand.

- I was out of chicken stock so I used water instead. I have made it both ways and to be honest, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in flavor. If you don’t have stock, water will do!

- In my most recent batch I added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and wilted it down before adding the liquid. It’s a great base to sneak in some extra veggies.

This soup is a winner in our house and is really customizable to your taste. If you would put it in a standard lasagna, put it in your soup! I happen to like the spicy sausage in it, but a ground beef/chicken/pork would work just as well.

 

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Mmmm, look at the goodness right there. Serve with crusty bread because, why not?!

Happy eating, friends!

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As I look through this most recent roudup of Pinterest food finds, I can’t help but notice they’re a little carb-heavy. I think I must subconsciously be tying the cooler weather to our dinners! I promise you, we eat vegetables.

Crock O’ Ribs - by Crockin’ Girls

I actually didn’t pin this one (gasp!) but found it on the Crockin’ Girls website. Do you know it? It’s a wealth of slow cooker meals, which I really appreciate, especially having even less time now in the evening to prepare dinner.

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I omitted the mushrooms because we don’t like them, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. The ribs fell apart like pulled pork and were very tasty. I paired them with cornbread and a quick white bean, tomato and basil salad.

Uno’s Deep Dish Pizza

Confession: I love Uno’s pizza. Yup, it’s a chain restaurant and hardly gourmet, but I love it. I used to frequent one in high school with friends or for dinner with my family and their signature deep dish pizza always felt like a special treat. There isn’t one close to us now, so I probably only go once a year, if that, but whenever I do, I’m a happy camper.

Imagine how excited I was to find out that Uno’s had released the recipe for their pizza! I HAD to try it.

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Well…

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…it did not disappoint. It wasn’t exactly the same in flavor as I remember (this could be because of small changes I made, like vegetable oil instead of corn oil and pamesan instead of romano cheese), but it was super delicious. I used a spring-form cake pan and I think it looks like the real deal!

Cheesy Zucchini Rice –  by Buns In My Oven

I liked the idea of this side dish. Cheese. Zucchini. Rice. I’m on board.

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I decided to make it a full meatless meal, so I added chickpeas and tomatoes. I also upped the spices a bit because I thought it was too bland initially. It was good. Nothing spectacular, but good. It also makes a TON.

Chicken Tamale Pie - by Pinch of Yum

YOU GUYS. This meal. This is the clear Pinterest winner by far.

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I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and just the thought of this made my mouth water. The only changes I made were the omission of cilantro (don’t like it), the egg substitute (used one real egg instead), and the garnish of Cotija cheese. Spicy chicken on top of sweet masa-like cornbread, smothered in cheese. Yum! It was so simple to put together and so, SO good. It received rave reviews from both boys and I ate leftovers for lunch for two days…and didn’t share a bite.

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Serve with a Corona, naturally.

Happy eating…and pinning!

Know what’s SUPER FRUSTRATING? Writing and scheduling a post, only to find out that only the title posted. Also, I have tried THREE TIMES to make this work with photos and WordPress is being a jerk today. Hear that, WordPress? GET IT TOGETHER.  Head —> Desk. So I guess I’ll write it again. If I can remember what I said. And you might not get photos. I’m sorry. Hm…I think it went something like this:

I adore Pinterest. (Find me here.) If asked to pick a favorite feature one might think it would be hard, but for me, it’s not. I love the recipes the most. I really like to cook and I love find variations on old favorites, brand new ideas and decadent looking desserts. Since I challenged myself to actually do some of the things I pinned, recipes have been the most frequent. Each time I sit down to write my grocery list/meal plan, I also open my Pinterest and try to use one new recipe each time. Some have been busts, but I’ve found some really great ones recently that are going into the arsenal. I especially like this since I find I tend to get into food ruts and make the same thing over and over.

Below are three of my more recent favorites. All photos are credit of the original poster. I’d love to be one of those bloggers who take pretty photos of their food, but I never remember to take them until I’m about halfway through and by then…meh. I just want to eat.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs by Handle the Heat

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This simple meal was quick, easy, and the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. My only recommendations would be to double the spice mix if you’re making a large amount of chicken. I made five thighs and just barely had enough spice to cover the last one. I also suggest using the cooking time as just a loose guide, and use your eyes and nose as the real timer. The original recipes calls for a seven-minute cook time, but mine took more like 15. Once you’ve unsuspectingly taken a bite of raw chicken, you try not to do it again. On top of being good, this was a really affordable meal. I bought seven thighs on sale for under $4. Yum!


Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Relish by Annie’s Eats

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I made these as a side to go with the spicy honey-brushed chicken, and I’m so glad I did. They are delicious! I used 2.5 cups frozen corn (thawed) instead of off the ear and regular milk instead of buttermilk because that’s what I had on hand. The result was a perfectly portioned cake of yum that paired really well with the relish. A relish that is so tasty, you could eat it straight out the bowl with a spoon…which I did! The cakes are a bit dense, so they are super filling and would work equally well as a side or a light lunch/dinner. I yielded about 11 cakes, so Owen and I finished the rest of lunch the next day. He liked it all, too! (Toddler approved!) I didn’t put any ranch dressing on top, as I don’t think it needs it.

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken by Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen

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I’m a big fan of slow cooker meals in the winter. With minimal work, you have a healthy meal that makes the house smell good all day. This one is no exception. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I had 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts in the freezer so I used those instead and halved the sauce recipe. Since breasts have less fat than other cuts of meat, I also cooked them closer to seven hours in the hopes that they would be come super tender. While they still turned out really yummy, they never reached that pull-apart goodness I hoped they would. If that matters to you, I would follow the recipe exactly and use the thighs. I served this along side couscous and broccoli and Michael mmm’d his way through it, requesting I make it again in the future.

So there you have it, some of my recent favorite food pins. I’ll do another round up in a few weeks because I truly believe good food is to be shared. Happy eating…and pinning! (PS – if you’re on Pinterest and I don’t follow you, please leave your user name in the comments so I can. Especially if you have a food board!)

Oh, Pinterest. What did we do without you? A virtual pinboard where I can save everything from paint colors, to living room inspiration, to recipes, hair tutorials and pictures of pretty, pretty wreaths. There are SO MANY WREATHS on Pinterest, have you noticed that? And I never once had a desire to make one until I started seeing them all lined up pretty, taunting me with their DIY-ness.

For the record, I don’t DIY. I mean, I didn’t. Until Pinterest. Because of Pinterest, I decide that my new mantle needed to be autumn-ized and so, I went out in the yard and collected acorns. And sticks. And put them in glass. With pinecones. That are spray painted gold. All next to teeny tiny pumpkins.

ZOMG, I’M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. And what’s worse? I LIKED IT.

So yeah, Pinterest is a total time-suck of wonderfulness and I love it. You can follow me on it here if you’d like.

I started to wonder, though, how much of what I pinned were things I would actually do, versus things I just thought were cool? I mean, how many wreaths can one person make? (Don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.) So I decided it was time to actually put my pin where my mouth is (what?) and pick one.

I picked this one: A smoky eye tutorial.

I’ve attempted the smoky eye thing in the past with not much luck, but this made it seem super easy. As pretty as it is, I decided to do a day version, as the pinned version is really more evening and less afternoon at the playground. Mine came out definitely NOT as glam as hers, but for a little mom-glam during the day, I think it worked out well.

Yeah, just ignore the awesomness of these photos. I don’t know how the girl in the tutorial got such great eye pictures on her own. I could not. Where’s the pin for how to do that, hmm?

Anyway, I deem this pin a SUCCESS! I’m definitely going to try a fancier version next time we go out, but for what this is, I’m happy.

Have any of you actually done something you pinned? I think I’m going to make this a semi-regular feature when (if) (no, really. When.) I actually do another pin.

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