Quinoa and Black Bean Stew

So I said this week that I was going to experiment with some new recipes since Mr. Little Sis was home. What I should have said was that I might even make him cook some of them. Wasn’t that nice of me? Hey sweetie, can you cook dinner while the kids and I are at violin? Great, here’s the recipe. We should have everything for it… Yeah, it was inspired. Good thing he’s a good sport.

So while I listened to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star played in about 5 rhythmic variations on a violin and viola, Mr. Little Sis dug in and did his best in a kitchen that is organized to someone else’s liking. I have to confess that it strikes me as unclear who got the short end of that stick. With a few texts about “we don’t have…” answered by “just use this with a little of that,”  Mr. Little Sis was off to the races.

The time estimate on this fantastic Quinoa and Black Bean Stew from Vegetarian Times is “under 30 minutes.” I think the estimate was pretty close given the aforementioned substitution advice via text and the “where does she keep the…” problem. The procedure was easy and the ingredients were not outlandish. We didn’t have fire roasted tomatoes so subbed out regular diced and added some smoked paprika. I admit that was genius, and it added just the right flavor. All of those fundamental flavors bubbling away with a smoky edge… coming home to this stuff already cooking was a heavenly moment for sure.

The stew is flavorful and interesting, even with a little less chili powder than called for (a concession to the children). The avocados added just the right amount of fat. And yes, you want the lime. It was so great little man requested leftovers in his lunch and ate every last piece of quinoa. As for Ms. Picky Pants? Well, you can’t win them all; she predictably did not care for the stew and that’s really all I can say about that. 75% approval around the table is an A- in this house, or at least a really strong B+. Given how much I personally enjoyed it and how I mourned the end of the leftovers, I have to say the non-super taster grade for this stew is an A.

Sometimes It’s Not That Complicated

I am a member of an online Mom’s group.  I don’t necessarily participate all that much, but when the twins were infants and we had just moved here, it was a lifesaver.  There was always someone around to “talk” to.  I still check in from time to time, to chat with my book club friends, get advice on a restaurant, or help a new Mom know it’s going to be okay.  While I was visiting with my online ladies yesterday, an interesting question caught my eye. Continue reading

Herbed Zucchini Rice – Soopah Fast Dinner

I know you may find this hard to believe, but there are nights when I have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner. The day gets away from me; I get immersed in work and whatever 12 projects I have going and before I know it, it’s time to meet the bus, which means it’s almost time to start dinner, which means I’m in trouble if the fridge is bare. My inability to consistently plan HAS had the side benefit of forcing me to be creative in a hurry, and sometimes that’s a good thing. On this particular occasion, it worked out just fine. If I were really sneaky, I’d just tell you how I made this dish and act like I’d planned it all along – I’m pretty sure that’s what I told the kids. 😉

This post highlights one of our favorite real food strategies: cooking excess when you cook. The reason I was able to pull this particular dinner together without stress was that I had both quinoa and rice leftover from previous dinners. Any time I make a grain for a meal, I double the amount that I cook. That way I can use it as a base for another meal, for packed lunches, or for hot cereal in the morning. Oh yeah, a little brown rice, some coconut, some raisins, some pecans – warm – but I digress… This is dinner we’re talking about, and it was great.

Herbed Zucchini Rice

  • 3 medium zucchini, grated (no seeds)*
  • olive oil for pan
  • 1 onion, chopped as fine as you prefer
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
  • 4 c cooked grains (I mixed quinoa and rice
  • 1-2 tsp dried tarragon (or herb or your choice)
  • salt to taste
  • dash pepper
  • juice of 1/2 medium lemon
  • 1/2 c sunflower cheese (or soft dairy cheese like ricotta)
  • chopped parsley (optional)

* For this dinner I grated the zucchini.  It is important to grate only the skin and the flesh, not the core and seeds of the zuke as the “interior” of the squash contains a lot of water and has a less pleasant texture when cooked, in my opinion. I’ve described the technique in detail here (along with some other zucchini love). The short version is to grate it down to the core, place in a strainer with a little salt and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

While the zucchini is resting, warm the oil in a pan.  Chop the onion, add to the pan and let cook on med-low heat until translucent.  Return to the zucchini and press as much water out as you can with a spoon or squeeze in a towel (over the sink). Add garlic to onion in pan and cook until fragrant.  Add zucchini to pan and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add tarragon (you could use another herb, but the tarragon gave a nice fresh and light taste), salt, and pepper.  Add rice (or whatever) and sunflower cheese (or whatever) to pan and lower heat – you’re warming, not frying.  Stir occasionally.  When warm, add lemon juice and stir through.  We served ours with chopped parsley on top.  Easy, soopah fast, and delish!