Pomegranate, Blue Cheese and Quinoa Caviar – Easy & Elegant Holiday Appetizer

Blue Cheese Pomegranate and Quinoa CaviarNow that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to refocus on the remaining festival of eating that spans now through the New Year!  There is more noshing and nibbling packed into the next 30 days than perhaps in the whole calendar year! With invited (and quite possible uninvited guests) dropping by with holiday cheer and hungry appetites, I like to have a few simple yet show-stopping appetizer recipes at my fingertips so that no one is disappointed.

Pomegranate Blue Cheese Quinoa Caviar is an easy and elegant appetizer for your next party or celebration. Leftovers are delicious sprinkled on a salad.

Blue Cheese Pomegranate and Quinoa Caviar

My recipe for Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Quinoa “Caviar” is an easy yet elegant addition to any gathering, whether you need sophisticated snacks to headline a cocktail party or as a prelude to a full-scale dinner party. Or, perhaps as an “I’m not cooking tonight” mini meal to enjoy with a bottle of wine in your fuzzy slippers after everyone heads home!

jennifer fisher pomegranate fresh summitOne of the treasures of this holiday hors d’oeuvres recipe is pomegranates. Pomegranates on their own are a quite festive fruit, the little arils inside resemble ruby-red jewels and taste decidedly more precious. When paired with a pleasingly pungent blue cheese and the almost nutty texture and taste of quinoa, you get a taste experience that I can describe no other way than Manheim steamroller for your Mouth – a modern orchestra of fa-la-la flavor!

Blue Cheese Pomegranate and Quinoa CaviarWhile this holiday appetizer looks like it spent all day getting ready for a food glamour shot, it’s actually embarrassingly easy to make. All the ingredients are just tossed together in a bowl and then molded into a standard 6-ounce ramekin dish. If you’d like to do individual servings, mold with a mini melon baller or cookie dough scoop.

I’ve served this Christmas and New Year’s Eve party recipe on one of my favorite cracker; the nearly paper-thin wafers from 34º Crisps.  However, you can use the cracker of your choice or even serve a dollop atop an apple or pear slice.

Blue Cheese Pomegranate and Quinoa Caviar on Steak Salad

If you have leftovers, a big spoonful or two of Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Quinoa “Caviar” is fantastic on a steak salad – especially with the Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette. Enjoy!

 

Make a a quick and healthy appetizer platter with these 10 Easy and Elegant Ways to Top Crackers.PS – Need some other easy cracker-topping ideas? I’m your girl, I have a gazillion combinations of goodness. Here is just a sampling of my madness — 10 Easy and Elegant Ways to Top a Cracker.

So, what are your favorite things to put on a cracker? See if you can surprise me! Share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Blue Cheese Pomegranate and Quinoa Caviar
Pomegranate, Blue Cheese and Quinoa Caviar
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 appetizer servings 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 appetizer servings 10 minutes
Blue Cheese Pomegranate and Quinoa Caviar
Pomegranate, Blue Cheese and Quinoa Caviar
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 appetizer servings 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 appetizer servings 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: appetizer servings
Instructions
  1. Add blue cheese crumbles, cooked quinoa, pomegranate arils and vinegar into small bowl, stir gently to combine.
  2. Transfer to 6-ounce ramekin dish and use back of spoon to tightly pack down.
  3. Place serving plate on top of ramekin and quickly invert.
  4. Carefully lift up ramekin, leaving mixture in mold form.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and walnuts along with reserved pomegranate arils.
  6. Serve with crackers, apple slices or on a salad.
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Beef, Quinoa and Feta Meatballs – Ground Round Goodness

Beefy Quinoa Meatballs

On top of spaghetti or even nestled in a lettuce wrap, meatballs are a mainstay in my weeknight dinner rotation – the kids love them and so do I!  In fact, there is usually a stampede to kitchen to see who can get served first! These spherical mounds of ground meat goodness can be made from just about anything, but I like to use ground beef – preferably a 90/10 ground sirloin to keep them a bit leaner yet still offer loads of satisfying flavor.

Beef Quinoa Meatballs

I’m expecting a stampede to the dinner table with this beef meatball recipe!

Today, I have a deliciously nutritious recipe for you — Beefy Quinoa Feta Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps. Yup, that’s right – instead of bread crumbs or another filler, I’ve added quinoa to act as the binder in these yummy meatballs – this little swaperoo makes them ideal for folks following gluten-free, Paleo or low carb diets.  Quinoa, an edible seed that is a good source of nutrients including fiber, iron, magnesium, folate and heart-healthy omega 3s, is also considered a complete protein in itself with all the requisite amino acids. What a dynamic duo – a double punch of protein thanks to beef and quinoa, both superfoods!

Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs

Not only to you kick up the protein with this beef quinoa meatball recipe, it also helps to stretch your food budget – adding the cup of cooked quinoa to ground beef lets you roll up a few more meatballs for hardly any more money (meaning, you can buy that better sirloin grind). And, in my family, more meatballs more happy boys and less arguing over who gets second servings.

Beef Quinoa Meatball Lettuce Wraps

You could serve these Beefy Quinoa Feta Meatballs  over the pasta of your choice or even a sub sandwich. I personally love them wrapped up in “bowls” of Bibb lettuce and drizzled with a tangy Greek yogurt dressing like a tzatzikis sauce – for convenience try OPA by Litehouse™ Feta Dill for the perfect lower-cal pairing.

Lil Critters Beef Meatball Bento BoxAlso, a fun kid-friendly idea for quickly-approaching October lunchbox duty — ‘Lil Critters Beef Meatball Bento Box. I made this happy monster meal in a post on ways to beef up a bag lunch for BeefLovingTexans.com — please visit to see the other ideas!

How would you serve these meatballs? Have you ever used quinoa for anything other than a side dish? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Print Recipe
Create a hearty meal that will please the whole family. These meatballs are packed with wholesome, nutritious ingredients like lean ground beef and quinoa and can be served over pasta or in lettuce leaves.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Beef Quinoa Feta Meatballs
Print Recipe
Create a hearty meal that will please the whole family. These meatballs are packed with wholesome, nutritious ingredients like lean ground beef and quinoa and can be served over pasta or in lettuce leaves.
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings (24 mini meatballs) 10 minutes
Cook Time
18 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings (24 mini meatballs)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, ground beef, cheese, parseley, salt and peppers until well combined. Using hands or a melon-baller, shape into 24 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast in oven until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes (internal temperature should reach 165 F degrees).
  4. Serve as desired -- in lettuce leaves, with pasta or in a sandwich are some ideas to get you started!
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Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad + #LivingOnTheWedge Questions Answered

Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad with Sprouted Watermelon Seeds has a secret ingredient -- beets!School may be starting, but that summer weather will be around these parts for a while  — and that means I can count on good watermelons through October here in Texas. Yeehaw!  When chopping up fresh watermelon for my kids’ lunchboxes, I always hide set aside a bowlful in the fridge to use as the superstar ingredient in in one of my salad creations.  This weekend, “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad was inspired by a dish I could both serve outdoors for al fresco dining (squeezing out the last few drops of summer pleasure before vacation ends) and also to package up during the week to take to school and work.

“Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad with Sprouted Watermelon Seeds  is perfect for outdoor summer entertaining and packs well in lunch boxes

“Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad lives up to its name – it’s super beautiful in shades of red made with ripe watermelon, shredded fresh beets and red onion. In addition to all the gorgeous nutrition these super food veggies offer, this quick and easy salad recipe offers enough protein to make it a meal thanks to hearty red quinoa and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Yes, you CAN eat watermelon seeds contrary to the old wives’ tale that eating them might make the fruit grow in your belly!

Raw Sprouted Watermelon SeedsI buy sprouted watermelon seeds to put on this salad and eat as a snack right out of the bag. Why “sprouted” seeds?  Not only does the sprouting process make them easier to eat and digest than the big black seeds, they are high in protein and a good source of iron and heart-healthy fats.  Sprouting seeds “wakes up” dormant seeds and kick starts the germination process that unlocks all their nutritional benefits.  You could make sprouted watermelon seeds at home, but busy-me prefers to buy – you could also substitute sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in the recipe if you can’t find them.

Watermelon Q & A

Over the course of #LivingOnTheWedge this summer, I’ve received lots of reader comments and questions about watermelon. I’m sharing what I know with you inquiring minds of melon – another great resource for all things watermelon (including nutrition, recipes, and fun facts) is Watermelon.org.

What’s the best way to store a watermelon and for how long can you keep it?Storing watermelons at 55° F is ideal, according to Watermelon.org.  However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature – any longer and they’ll start they’ll lose flavor and texture. After cutting, store watermelon in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. After cut, wrap watermelon in plastic or keep in an airtight container at 36° – 39°F. Also, I’ve noticed if you let watermelon sit in the juice that collects at the bottom of the container for too long, it loses the signature crisp texture – so I always drain off (and drink or save) the juice every time I get into my stash. Another strategy to maintain freshness is to keep melon stored in big chunks or slices as opposed to little bites. This cuts down on the amount of juice that drains out in the bottom of the container.

Do you know why watermelon helps alleviate morning sickness while pregnant?  The high water content in watermelon (92 percent) along with magnesium and potassium helps keep pregnant women from getting dehydrated, a dangerous condition that can also make nausea worse.  Additionally, the cool, mild, lightly sweet flavor of watermelon is easy to tolerate when queasy, especially when paired with other known upset tummy tamers like ginger, lemons or limes. Check out my recipe for Watermelon Ginger Limeade  — take a few sips every 10 minutes until you feel better!

Is it safe to eat a watermelon that was accidentally left in the car overnight in the summer?  My first reaction to this question was – “yes, don’t watermelons grown in the hot sun anyway?” But experts say to abide by the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule.  So, I would say if the outdoor temp was close to “room temp” then eat, if hotter,  throw it away (as horrifying as that is).

Is it okay to swallow watermelon seeds?  One reader said she remembered swallowing her share of seeds during watermelon eating contests as a kid, and was worried about the consequences. Unlike the fear that our mothers instilled in us as young-uns, watermelon seeds are 100 percent safe for consumption. There is nothing at all harmful about them and a watermelon won’t even sprout in your belly! Today’s recipe for “Super Red” Watermelon Quinoa Salad even uses easier to digest “sprouted” watermelon seeds (which can be grown or, easier, bought at a health food store) – they are actually good source of protein and alternative for people with nut allergies.

How many kinds of watermelon are there and which is the best? There are more than 300 varieties of watermelons grown around the world, although not that many are readily available in your local market. The Crimson Sweet is a popular choice that is reliably sweet –check out this link that sums up some of the best from Saveur. And, if looking to pick the BEST watermelon out of the bin, check out these Tips for Picking Watermelon.

What’s the most unusual watermelon recipe you’ve made? Okay, this was a fun question to answer because I got to reminisce about all my watermelon creations and give them superlative awards! Winning “Most Beautiful” is my Chocolate Cherry Watermelon “Cake” and taking the title of “Most Dramatic” is  my Sesame Salmon on Spicy Seared Watermelon, a recipe that caught the unsolicited attention of casting agents for the Food Network (apparently I’m not as exciting as my food although I beg to differ).   “Most Athletic” goes to My Creamy Watermelon Chia Seed Smoothie for its L-citrulline and protein perks that are good for pre and post workout while and “Most Cool” award goes to the Watermelon Coconut Cherry Chiller . Oh, and I can’t forget to mention my go-getter recipe,  Brisket Tacos with Watermelon BBQ Sauce – it’s definitely “Most Likely to Succeed” at your next backyard cookout or family Taco Tuesday night.

Winning Watermelon Recipes

Watermelon, Quinoa, Beet SaladWhat are you packing in lunchboxes this week? Aside from “don’t swallow watermelon seeds,” what other superstitious advice has your mother given you?  Do you have any unanswered watermelon questions? Please share and/or ask in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

BTW, this post was sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board — however, unless otherwise noted, all recipes, editorial content, and enthusiasm for watermelon are all my own.  

Watermelon, Quinoa, Beet Salad
Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad
Print Recipe
This delicious Watermelon Quinoa Salad is packed with nutritious benefits and is great f or Labor Day entertaining, summer parties and lunch boxes!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Watermelon, Quinoa, Beet Salad
Super Red Watermelon Quinoa Salad
Print Recipe
This delicious Watermelon Quinoa Salad is packed with nutritious benefits and is great f or Labor Day entertaining, summer parties and lunch boxes!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Place watermelon in blender and blend for about 1 minute, or until flesh is broken down. Pour watermelon through fine mesh strainer, collecting juice in a glass measuring cup. Collect 1 ½ cups of watermelon juice, reserving 1 cup for quinoa and ½ cup for dressing.
  2. Rise uncooked quinoa in fine mesh strainer and place in saucepan with 1 cup of watermelon juice. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until juice is absorbed. Pour cooked quinoa in bow and let cool in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is chilling, make dressing by adding ½ cup of reserved watermelon juice to bowl. Wisk in jalapeno, salt, pepper, stevia, olive oil and cilantro. Set aside.
  4. Pull quinoa out of fridge. Add beets, red onion, green onion and spouted watermelon seeds to quinoa and toss with watermelon vinaigrette.
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Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Hemp Honey Dressing #NOWwellness

 

This post is sponsored by Now Foods via Mamavation.Gold Kiwi Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing is an easy, elegant and amazingly nutritious addition to your dinner party.

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of amazing fruit at every turn. Watermelons, berries, stone fruits, and exotic discoveries like golden kiwis! While everyday green kiwis are pretty darn good, the golden kiwi is especially exceptional. It’s a bit bigger and bursting with supersized flavor – so sweet!  My recipe for Gold Kiwi, Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing takes advantage of the season’s best offerings – and a yummy salty-sweet taste!

Golden Kiwi, Apricot and Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing

NOW Foods Organic Toasted Hemp Seeds perfect for snack or recipes.

If you’re not familiar with hemp seeds, let me introduce you! Hemp seeds have so many nutritional benefits – this superfood is an excellent source of heart-healthy fats, is a complete protein providing all eight amino acids, and is rich in numerous vitamins and other essential nutrients. A tablespoon or so a day is the perfect nutrition boost for everyone, but an especially great option for those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.  I’ve used NOW Real Food® Organic Toasted Hemp Seeds in my fresh and fit recipe – this seeds are lightly toasted and sprinkled with sea salt to enhance their nutty flavor.

Gold Kiwi, Apricot & Feta Salad with Honey Hemp Dressing Recipe

  1. Peel kiwi and chop into small bits. Peel and seed apricot and chop into small bits.
  2. To small bowl, add chopped kiwi, chopped apricot, feta cheese crumbles and 2 tablespoons of the hemp seeds. Gently stir until combined
  3. Divide mixture and press mixture into two 6 ounce ramekins. Place small plate on top of ramekin and invert quickly; gently tap to remove fruit.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together avocado oil, lime juice, honey and cumin until combined. Drizzle over top of salads and garnish with fresh herbs. Serves 2.

Here are some other wholesome ingredients from NOW Foods that I have been enjoying this summer in my healthy recipes:

LivingNOW Tri Color QuinoaTri Color Quinoa – I’m a big fan of quinoa, especially on those nights when I’m making a meat-free meal.  This product in the wholesome LivingNOW line features a pleasing blend of white, red and black quinoa and is certified organic and made in a dedicated gluten-free, allergy-friendly facility. Quinoa is a great source of protein and iron, making it a hearty and healthy meal when mixed with seasonal fresh produce.  One of the easy salad dishes I like to make in the summer is my recipe for Triple Berry Quinoa Salad – it would be perfect for the 4th of July!

 NOW Gluten Free Flour perfect for baking all your goodies up tender and light!All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour – Have gluten allergies? You can get out your mixing bowl and start baking again. This gluten-free baking flour uses ingredients that are free of gluten and eight of the most common food allergens.  The texture is surprisingly light and fluffy, making it perfect for cookies, coffee cakes, bread and more!

Garlic Coconut Oil -- perfect for stirfry, sauteeing and even drizzled on popcorn!

Ellyndale Organics™ Coconut Oil Infusions – Enjoy the rich taste of coconut oil (along with the health benefits) AND a punch of garlic with this oh-so-yummy oil. It’s great for sauteeing thanks to a high smoke point, but it’s also good on salads and . . . wait for it . . .POPCORN made in the microwave with a brown paper bag

 

 

Avocado Oil has a high smoking point, making it perfect for stirfrys, sautes, and even drizzled on salads.Ellyndale Naturals™ Premium Avocado Oil  Did you know Prevention Magazine named this versatile oil to their list of “100 Healthiest Packaged Foods”  — it’s all the healthy monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E! Perfect for sautéing and stir-frying thanks to the high smoke point of approximately 520°F! Avocado Oil is ideal for high-heat cooking such as sautéing and stir-frying – or just drizzle on your salads and other raw dishes for butter-rich deliciousness.

 

 

Stock up on these Pantry Staples:

What is your favorite fruit of summer? Have you ever tried hemp seed, how did you use it? Please share in the comments below! XOXO -Jennifer 

Kale & Quinoa Casserole Recipe + The Running Event

It was a busy day visiting with old friends (like Altra, Nuun Hydration, Pocket Fuel, and others) and meeting new folks in the running industry at THE RUNNING EVENT conference right here in Austin. I have lots of new running gear and race fuel products to update you on —   and perhaps a giveaway or two coming up soon!

Bart Yasso & Jennifer Fisher at TRE14It was also fun to bump into Bart Yasso (aka the “Mayor of Running) who I threatened to track down if his world-famous “Yasso 800s” don’t pay off in my upcoming Dallas Marathon.In the meantime, I wanted to share a nutritious comfort food recipe that is perfect addition to a holiday potluck party or just as a make-ahead and bake later meal for a busy night – Ranch Kale and Quinoa Casserole.  Originally created for the Litehouse Food blog (please visit), this home-style dish a hearty yet healthy riff on broccoli rice casserole, one of my favorite Christmas side dish (but most versions I’ve seen have tons of butter, cream, or “cream of” soups).

Ranch Kale & Quinoa Casserole - TheFitFork.com

Ranch Kale & Quinoa Casserole Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • 1 large white onion (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (from 1 cup dry)
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (divided)
  1. Add olive oil to 12” to 14” cast iron skillet and bring to medium-high heat.
  2. Add chopped onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until softening. Add half of kale and cook down for about 2 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water, if needed.  Add remaining kale to skillet and sauté for 2 -3 more minutes until completely wilted.
  3. Add garlic, salt and pepper to kale and continue to sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in pre-cooked quinoa, ranch dressing and ¾ cup of parmesan cheese.
  5. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and bake in 350 F degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling and cheese browning on top.
  6. Serves 8.

 

cheesy quinoa bake

Using quinoa instead of rice or pasta in a casserole adds extra protein and can often stand alone as a vegetarian or Meatless Monday meal – check out another favorite of mine, Lightened Cheese Quinoa and Cauliflower Casserole.

 

 

What is your favorite comfort casserole?

What new running gear do you have your eye on?

Healthier Comfort! {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole Recipe

When you hear the words “melted cheese,” what comes to mind? I think of all kinds of comfort foods like homey mac & cheese, ginormous slices of mozzarella blanketed pizza blanketed, and hot Tex Mex queso and a basket of chips. However, all this ooey, gooey goodness comes with high-fat, high calorie consequences if I’m not careful. But, there are a few tweaks and tricks that will allow you to enjoy cheese in recipes while keeping you light on your feet (and hands)!

yoga handstand pose jennifer fisher

My cheese tips & tricks will keep you light on your feed (and hands)!

First of all, portion control. Just because you CAN eat a whole batch of cheese sticks, doesn’t mean you should. Second, moderation in the use of cheese as an ingredient – if a recipe calls for 1 cup, cut back and see if a little less will still yield the same effect. If you don’t want to sacrifice the “creaminess,” often you can also substitute a little Greek yogurt or a roux made with low fat milk as in my {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole recipe below. Another way to keep cheese the star of the dish without globbing it on is to use a high quality cheese. Fresh cheese and artisan cheese taste so much better than the dried out, shredded stuff hanging in the bags at the supermarket – the taste is more pronounced and therefore you can use less!

aged cheddar cheese thefitfork

Recently, I took advantage of this last healthy cheese tip, by making a comforting casserole with a ton of healthy swaps.   First off, I used one of my favorite cheeses – Kerrygold Aged Cheddar – as the topping on my {Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole. Kerrygold Aged Cheddar is a cheese made from the milk of grass-fed cows and then aged for taste for one year – it’s described as “rich and full-bodied with a smooth finish” and I agree (nom,nom).  By using aged cheddar as the bold accent on top of the recipe, I was able to cut significantly on the cheese used within the interior of the casserole – in fact, only two ounces were stirred into the easy roux that had been kept light with low-fat milk and just a skosh of canola oil (no butter)! Also, instead of traditional rice or noodles, I used quinoa in this healthy casserole recipe for added protein – although it has no meat, it could make a hearty side dish as part of a Meatless Monday dinner.  Oh, and it has cauliflower – it just seems to turn to creamy, dreamy butter in this dish!

cheesy quinoa bake

{Lightened} Cheesy Cauliflower Quinoa Casserole Recipe

  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 1 12-oz bag microwave-in-bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups chopped sweet yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic from jar
  • ½ cup 1% milk
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  1.  Heat medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ teaspoons oil and coat pan. Add quinoa and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly toasted; stir frequently.
  2. Add 1 ¼ cups water and bring to a bowl. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  4. In large skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan and sauté onions for 3 to 4 minutes until softened and turning golden. Stir in garlic during last 1 minute of cooking.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together milk and flour; stir chicken broth, salt and pepper into this mixture.
  6. Add milk-broth mixture to skillet and bring to a boil; stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  7. Remove skillet from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese until melted.
  8. Microwave cauliflower according to package directions. Carefully remove from bag and very coarsely chop.
  9. Stir in quinoa and cauliflower into Parmesan mixture.
  10. Place in 1 ½ to 2 quart baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Or, you can do in individual ramekins as pictured below.Top with grated cheese.
  11. Bake at 400 F degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese bubbling and lightly browned on top.
  12. Serves 6 – 8.

cauliflower quinoa ramekins

Cooking Light Best Cheese RecipesOkay, so I won’t lie. I was inspired to make this cheesy, delicious dish after getting my October issue of Cooking Light magazine. Hello, the headline is “Our Best Cheese Dishes” and it included a kid-friendly, make-ahead recipe for a Broccoli Quinoa Casserole with Chicken — of course, I HAD to tweak it and make it my own. Check out some of the other healthier cheese recipes from Cooking Light – you will be drooling!

 

What is your favorite type of cheese or recipe using cheese?

This post is sponsored by Cooking Light and KerryGold. I received free products / gifts in return for this post; however, all opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) are my own. 

Busy Day Fuel – Southwestern Tuna Quinoa Salad Two Ways!

5:15 am –  alarm clock, grab breakfast, run, shower, see three kids off to school, check emails, make work phone calls, start laundry, research and writing for client, leave for errands, hit the gym, eat lunch, grocery store, pick up kids from school, check mail, return emails, make more phone calls, go over kids homework, pick up clutter, make recipes, style photos, take blog photographs, chauffeur to sports practice and boy scouts, make dinner, pick up from band practice, finish laundry, pack next day’s lunches, go over family’s schedule, check emails, social media, talk to husband, play with dog, make a snack, sleep  – 11 pm (hopefully).  

alternative fish tacosOkay, so you can see I don’t usually have a lot of time for long, leisurely meals.  Normally, I am scarfing down breakfast, lunch and dinner quickly while standing up at the kitchen island or on the go. While my kids always get a nutritious, sit-down dinner before their nightly activities, my plate of food often gets pushed down the priority list while I wash the dishes, talk to them about their days and tackle the remainder of my  frenzied, gotta-get-out-the-door checklist.  Oh, if I had a dollar for every artistically-plated meal I’ve dumped into a Tupperware container to eat it in the car  . . . I’d have enough money to get the deluxe car detailing package that would remove crumbs from the nooks and crannies!

Maybe the whirlwind of life is why I love salads so much – by design, everything is meant to be jumbled up together – it’s not always pretty, but it’s productive!  Salads can be made ahead of time without worry of reheating and will wait patiently in the fridge until called into service. A big hearty salad with all the fixings is also the standard fare for my late-working, non-cooking husband.  To keep the love alive with my salads, I mix up the combination of dressings, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and extras like cheeses, nuts, grains and more – there a gazillion variations and I never get bored (this seems like an analogy for my life).

quinoa tuna saladAn easy and tasty protein that often tops my salads is tuna. I always keep a stockpile of  Bumble Bee® Tuna in the pantry and it has saved me from the “hangries” on many occasions with no-cook, no clean-up, super nutritious convenience.  I’m a fan of the single-serve, 2.5 ounce pouches of the Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore Tuna and Light Tuna because they don’t require a can opener or messy draining, making them oh-so workable in a lunch box.  But, if you’re used to the traditional cans, don’t worry, Bumble Bee® still makes those!

If you need a quick and easy dinner idea, check out my Fiesta Tuna Quinoa Salad Recipe  —  it can be served two ways! First way is to serve in a bowl as pictured above and get your protein fix with a spoon – did you know that 2.5 ounces of the Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore Tuna has 17 grams of protein and the quinoa adds even more to the mix! Red quinoa and tuna make a snappy pair and all the healthy veggies and southwestern citrus dressing will make you want to jump up, stomp your boots and shout “Ole!”  Don’t be scared that there are a lot of ingredients, it’s super easy to put together — chop, chop!

The second way to serve this healthy salad is to fill romaine lettuce leaves with this tasty tuna quinoa salad and eat them wrap-style. If you’re looking for more lunch box ideas, easy dinner recipes or other healthy meal inspiration, check out the Bumble Bee® collection of custom tuna recipessouthwestern fish lettuce tacos

Fiesta Tuna Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground chile pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 ½ cups red quinoa, rinsed
  •  15 ½ -oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh jalapeno
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions (bulb and tops)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 large avocado, cubed
  • 2 (5-oz) pouches Bumble Bee Albacore Tuna or Light Tuna (or four 2.5-oz pouches)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (depending on heat preference)
  • Extras (optional): lime wedges, cilantro sprigs and romaine lettuce leaves
  1. Combine 1 tsp. salt, the cumin, coriander, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the salt, cumin, chile powder and cinnamon; stir well and saute for 30 seconds to make flavors bloom.
  3. Add quinoa to spices, stir again for about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa for about 20 to 22 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  4. Remove pot from heat and place clean dish cloth between lit and pot; let sit for about 4 to 5 minutes. This will help absorb remaining moisture and keep quinoa from getting sticky. Let quinoa cool to room temperature.
  5. While quinoa is cooling, combine the black beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, jalapeno, green onions, and chopped cilantro in medium bowl. Add citrus juices, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, honey and Sriracha sauce. Stir until coated. Mix in cooled quinoa, tuna and avocado; stir gently until combined.
  6. To serve, place in bowls or lettuce leaves and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Note: this dish is excellent made the day before as flavors have more time to mingle together.
  7. Serves 4.

Do you have any favorite tuna recipes?  Please share a description or link in the comments!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Triple Berry Red Quinoa Salad Recipe & Beach Bod Workout

Berry Grain Salad

Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, oh my! With the season turning warmer, berries are finally starting to have a delicious ripe flavor. Nothing worse than a middle-of-winter, unripe, white-bellied strawberry, am I right?! I’ve been known to put a berrry or two atop my salads so I came up with this beautiful Triple Berry Red Quinoa Salad to take advantage of a bounty of berries.I think you’ll love it as a light lunch or side dish; in fact, you could even make a heartier meal of this salad by adding some shrimp, fish or other lean protein. Actually, the recipe starts off with a pretty decent amount of protein thanks to the red quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain that is not only high in protein (14g per serving) but also a good source of dietary fiber (7g per serving), plus it is gluten-free and popular with vegetarians and vegans. Oh, and it’s easy to store, easy to cook and has a satisfying crunch.

Quinoa Berry Salad with Lime Viniagrette

Triple Berry Red Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • ½ pint blueberries
  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh jalapeno
  • ½ cup Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette*
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  1. Add quinoa, water and salt in medium pot, bring to boil. Cover and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
  2. Spread out cooked quinoa on baking sheet and set in refrigerator for 15 minutes for quick cooling.
  3. Meanwhile, wash, drain and dry berries. Chop strawberries and cut blackberries in half if they are large.
  4. In large bowl, add cooled quinoa, berries, red onion, jalapeno and dressing (*see note about dressing below); stir to combine.
  5. Serve sprinkled with feta cheese.
  6. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days.

*I love the convenience and taste of Litehouse Food’s Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette – it’s also a certified organic product and I’ve noticed that it’s one of the dressings (out of their dozens) that most stores stock.  If this is not available in your area – order online!  Or, make fresh by blending ½ cup fresh or frozen berries with ¼ cup champagne vinegar, ¼ cup fresh lime juice and 1 tablespoon honey. After this mixture is pureed, slowly blend in ¼ cup canola oil and continue blending until emulsified.

berry storage container

I love this “berry keeper” container / colander!

By the way, I got yet ANOTHER kitchen gadget when out shopping the other day, I just can’t help myself. This little “berry keeper” preserves the freshness of delicate raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and other small fruits (or veggies), meaning no more rotten waste. The inside stackable tray layers berries to keep them from bruising and also serves as a handy little colander.

rinse strawberries

Resealing lids attach to the top and bottom so that moisture can be drained from either end. The dial on front is an adjustable vent that regulates air coming in and out of the container and extends the edible life of produce – a guide tells whether it should be open or shut for each specific fruit.  Anyway, I highly recommend this kitchen gadget and I don’t ever expect it will be stashed in my junk drawer with the regrettable impulse buys.

 

Okay, my parting share for the day is a workout I created for Core Power Protein Shakes.  It’s an outdoor workout you can do at the beach or really anywhere. The beach is my all-time favorite place to be and I hope that when I grow up (or retire), I get to relocate to a tropical island!

beach workout

So, what is your favorite exercise to do on the beach (lifting a cold drink doesn’t count)?