Meatless Monday- Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Happy Meatless Monday!  Today I am featuring a truly delicioso recipe for quinoa stuffed peppers that I found while searching good old  I am all about quinoa and have been using it more and more as my go to grain.  Like most whole grains quinoa is packed with fiber, but what makes it superior to the rest is its protein content.  It contains about 15g of protein per cup! 

I was leery that this recipe might be a little boring, but I was pleasantly proven wrong.  These peppers are so full of flavor!  They also keep well, so if you can’t finish all your peppers in one serving, pack them up and have them for lunch the following day. 

For those who follow a vegan lifestyle the cheese is an optional ingredient.  I think that the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients are super flavorful and the cheese is definitely not required. 


Serves 8

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 3 large carrots, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided (optional)
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed


1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour.

5. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving. 

What did you make for Meatless Monday?

Buen Provecho!

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Meatless Monday- Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Happy Meatless Monday!  I was looking to make something a little different and I came upon this recipe on  It got my attention because I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes and anything in a casserole dish.  The flavors were delicious!  I served it with a side of just lightly dressed mixed greens to keep it true to European form.  My only regret was not having a toasted baguette, as I think the crunch factor would have been a nice add to the dish. 



  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (1/4 lb.)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk or plain soymilk
  • 1 Tbs. nonhydrogenated margarine or butter
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg


  • 1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 leek, white part thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 turnips, diced (1 cup)   *I used Parsnips
  • 1 carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (2 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup white wine or water
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbs. shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


To make Sweet Potato Topping:

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add sweet potato, cover, and boil 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and return to pot. Mash with milk, margarine, cinnamon, and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.

To make Filling:

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and leek, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes, or until leek is soft. Add turnips (in this case parsnips), carrot, thyme, and rosemary; cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until carrot begins to soften.

3. Add wine, and cook 30 seconds to deglaze pan. Stir in beans and broth. Cover, and simmer 10 minutes, or until carrots and turnips are soft. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Remove thyme sprigs from Filling, and discard. Pour Filling into 2- or 3-qt. casserole dish. Spread Sweet Potato Topping over Filling. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if using.

5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place casserole on baking pan. Bake, uncovered, 30  minutes, or until filling is bubbly and cheese has melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Not only was the meal great, it is also good for you!  It is only 129 calories per 1 cup serving and packs in 4g of protein and 5g of fiber.  Not a bad way to start the week! 

What are you cooking tonight for Meatless Monday?

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Meatless Monday- No Bake Lasagna

Happy Meatless Monday!  This week I’m featuring a recipe I found in this month’s Whole Living for a No Baked Lasagna.  I usually don’t make Italian in my house because there’s no way that I would ever try to think that I can cook an Italian meal that would come close to Mike’s mother’s, but I thought since that this waskinda pseudo-Italian, I’d give it a shot.  We hadn’t seen Mike’s brother, Anthony, in about a week so we invited him over to have some dinner and catch up.  The best thing about this recipe is that it’s not baked with all that cheese so it’s a much healthier version of the traditional (and one of my favorites) lasagna.


I adapted the amount of the ingredients from the original recipe because when cooking for two guys, I think it’s always best to have a little more.  I also used vegetable stock instead of chicken. 

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups mixed red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (2 pints)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup vegetable stock
  • box of lasagna noodles
  • 2/3 cup small basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Add stock. Simmer until sauce like, about 1 minute. Add remaining cup tomatoes. Cook until warm, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain.
  3. Toss pasta in skillet to coat. Stir in basil, reserving some for garnish.
  4. Divide pasta among 4 plates. Top with any remaining sauce. Dot with ricotta, and drizzle with remaining teaspoon oil. Top with shaved cheese and remaining basil. Sprinkle with pepper.

I served the dish with a slice of a whole grain olive baguette and the meal was great!   The flavors mirrored those of a typical lasagna but the consistency and lightness of the dish didn’t leave you feeling full and weighed down.  Buon Appetito!

 What are you cooking tonight for Meatless Monday?

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Fiesta Recipes! Parte dos

Happy Mother’s Day to all those mamas out there!  I would like to dedicate this post to my beautiful mother whose heart, strength, and generosity inspire me every day. 

So as a tribute to her, I thought it would be nice to share her delicious enchilada recipe.

Enchiladas de mi Mama

Growing up I would love to help my mom in the kitchen and one of my favorite things to do would help her roll the enchiladas.  A couple of years ago when I was making enchiladas for a large group of people I called my mother complaining about how long it was taking me to individually roll each tortilla.  She quickly stopped me and told me that she had made them recently as layers and then cut them in the traditional looking rectangles.  She was also very pleased to tell me that my father, who’s been eating her enchiladas for over 30 years, had no idea there was any difference.  It’s super easy and thus, from that point on that’s how I’ve made my enchiladas. 


  • Pack of tortillas
  • 1 bottle/can of enchilada sauce
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cashew pieces
  • 1 pack of Mexican mix cheese
  • Sliced black olives
  • Shreded chicken (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish with a light layer of enchilada sauce
  3. Place 3 tortillas in single layer on top of the sauce
  4. Cover with cheese, carrots, cashews, chicken (again, optional, I personally eat mine without) and then sauce 
  5. Repeat the process ending with tortillas, sauce, more cheese and topped with sliced olives
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted
  7. Slice into rectangles and serv

This recipe has served me very well, and the enchiladas are always a hit, so thanks mama!  What’s your favorite recipe that you learned from your mom?

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Fiesta Recipes! Parte Uno

So last night’s small Cinco de Mayo fiesta turned out to be a success!  We had about six couples and I don’t know if they were just being nice (which being the kind people they are could be very true), but they all seemed to really enjoy themselves.  As the guests entered I had blue corn tortilla chips served with homemade guacamole and Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica and Mike was making house(well let’s be honest, apartment)made “Skinnygirl” margaritas.  Our friend Tara brought over a couple of the actual coveted bottles a little later in the evening and I was happy that ours did the Skinnygirl brand justice!  Being a Bethanny fan, I was so excited to try her margaritas and I must say they were quite delicious and will be a regular item at any events we have this summer! 

After a couple of margaritas and me finishing up in the kitchen I brought out the rest of the food on the evening’s menu.  I made my mother’s enchiladas one with chicken, and one without; sliced skirt steak in Marcela Valladolid’s beer-marinade; and beans-and greens tacos with goat cheese from a recipe I found in this months Martha Stewart’s Living.  I also put out some veggie refried beans and all the other classic mexican fixings including, sour cream, Cholula sauce, diced tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.  I was really pleased with how everything turned out and the guests seemed to leave in the only way I like them to leave, full and happy!  

As this is Part 1 of Fiesta Recipes I thought I would start with the items that I got from Marcela and Martha and feature the enchiladas tomorrow as a tribute to my mama for Mother’s Day.  So let’s get to the taco recipe….

Beer-Marindated Skirt Steak

I made this as a meat item to add to the Beans and Greens tacos.  I personally only had the tacos veggie style, but I thought that the skirt steak would go really well with the flavors of the greens and the goat cheese.  I have to give credit to Mike who grilled the steaks and cooked them to perfection. 


  • 1 orange, thinly sliced with peel
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved and smashed
  • 2 1/4 pounds skirt steak
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup light-colored beer (preferably lager style)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce


  1. In a wide, shallow glass baking dish, scatter half of the orange slices, half of the onion slices and half of the garlic pieces on the bottom of the dish.
  2.  Sprinkle the steak all over with salt and pepper and put in the dish on top of the orange and onion slices.
  3. Scatter the remaining orange, onion and garlic over the steak and pour in the beer and soy sauce.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Prepare a grill pan on medium-high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the steak to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
  6. Slice steak into thin slices and serve.

Beans-And-Greens Tacos with Goat Cheese

I unfortunately don’t have as many pictures of this recipe as I would have likes.  I prepared them as the guests were arriving so I wasn’t as liberal with my photo taking.


  • 3 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 2 red onions sliced into 3/4 inch round
  • 5 garlic cloves finely slice
  • 1 lb Swiss chard, destemmed and roughly chopper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 8 white-corn tortillas
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 8 cilantro sprigs
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet.
  2. Saute onions til soft, approx. 6 min.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. Stir in chard, beans, and stock. Cook until chard has wilted and the beans are warmed through. Approximately 4 min.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Using tongs, hold each tortilla directly over a gas flame (I use my hands, but I’ve been heating tortillas for years, so just be careful!)
  6.  Spoon filling onto tortilla and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and cilantro

Here’s a photo of the finished tacos from Martha Stewart’s May 2011 Living Magazine… I think mine actually turned out pretty close! 

Check back mañana for the delicioso enchilada recipe!

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Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

Feliz Cinco De Mayo!  As I have mentioned before I am of Mexican decent so I felt it was appropriate to share a little Mexicana joy today with you!  Back in So Cal, today is one of my favorite holidays as the streets are filled with mariachis, flautas, churros and cervezas.  Since I have moved out to New York I have thrown an annual Mexican fiesta the weekend that Cinco de Mayo falls on.  The past couple years we’ve had everything from piñatas to ice luges to margarita machines to large amounts of catered food.  But this year, I’m going much simpler and just having a few couples over and I’m going to make my mother’s enchiladas and do a simple, but delicious taco station.  As I’m not going to start the cooking till tomorrow, you’re just gonna have to wait for the recipes! 

But in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would share a few inspirations of mine that were hecho en Mexico. 

The Mexican woman in my family, especially my Grandma, Alicia Lopez who I miss dearly and think of daily.

Miss Frida Kahlo 

She was such a free spirit and so secure in herself and her work.  Miss Kahlo opened the doors for not only Mexican woman, but for all woman, allowing us to feel free to express ourselves loudly and with an amazing amount of color.

Mexican tile and ceramic work

Mexican Cuisine

And of course, Mexican Athletes

Hee-hee… I just had to sneak in Mark Sanchez!  Go Jets!

Hope everyone has a great Cinco de Mayo!  Get those margaritas mixing and those coronas cheersing!  Salud!

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Mi casa es su casa

As I have mentioned before I am from Southern California, but more specifically from a beach town called San Clemente in South Orange County.  Mike and I just returned from a 10 day visit with my family and as always the small beach town is as magical as when I was younger, spoiling its residents and visitors with long sunny days and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

When I started my morning with a view of the ocean, a few flowers from my mother’s garden,

and an amazing soy latte from Mimosa Cafe decorated like it knew it was going to be featured on GrowCookEatNYC,

I knew it was going to be one of those perfect San Clemente days.

One of my favorite places to go and show visitors is Casa Romantica which sits on a hill overlooking the coastline.  Built in 1927, San Clemente’s founder, Ole Hanson, wanted his family home to reflect the vision he had of the Californian dream in the new “Spanish Village by the Sea.” 

I realized that I still hadn’t shown Mike Casa Romantica so we took a visit with my parents.  Its $5 to enter and worth every penny.  All the proceeds go to the Casa to up keep the venue and they do a great job of doing so.  We were fortunate enough to be able to stroll the gardens with so many of the spring flowers in bloom. 

And how cool is this artichoke plant?  The next day at Trader Joe’s, I definitely put a few in my basket! 

Everywhere you looked there was some sort of plant growth!

And in case you felt like you didn’t get your $5 worth in the garden… the view is truly priceless.

So for those who find themselves in San Clemente, CA… I highly recommend an afternoon at Casa Romantica!

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