Black bean and butternut squash casserole

black bean enchilida casserole

I can’t believe I never posted this recipe. It was so delicious! You could substitute with another type of squash like yellow or acorn if butternut squash is not in season. I love finding ways to incorporate squash and veggies into traditional meals. And it made grrrreat leftovers!

Serves 6-8


  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, coconut, canola, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 4 cups diced butternut squash (from a small to medium butternut squash that has been peeled and seeded)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 yellow or white corn tortillas, cut into large squares (I cut each tortilla in thirds and then chopped the strips in half)
  • 2 cups green enchilada sauce (preferably homemade)
  • 2-3 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno, if using. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften. Stir in the butternut squash, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder.

Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the squash is tender. If you want a smoother consistency to the squash, continue cooking until it breaks down to a creamy consistency, otherwise you can cook it just until it becomes tender.

Stir in the beans, tortillas and enchilada sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes so the tortillas can soak up some of the sauce and start to cook down just a little bit.

Add the chicken, cilantro and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir to combine and heat through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes over medium-low or medium heat until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Crispy quinoa cakes with cashew cream

quinoa cakes

Let me start off by saying that my boyfriend, a trained chef, had his doubts about this recipe when I brought it up. He questioned if the cakes would fall apart while cooking. But I am glad to say that I proved him wrong! With enough egg to hold the patties together, this recipe turned out perfect! I ate it for lunch every day last week and felt so full! I will definitely be making this again and look forward to making it even better.


Quinoa cakes

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked white quinoa, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (since I cook gluten-free, I made my bread crumbs by pulsing an Udi’s bagel in the food processor)
  • Olive oil or clarified butter for coating pan

Cashew cream

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 3/4 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp honey


Quinoa cakes

In a large bowl combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt; stir to mix well. Add the basil, red onion, cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs to the bowl; stir, then let the mixture sit for a few minutes so that the bread crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. If your mixture is too wet you can add a little more breadcrumbs at this point and if it is too dry add a small amount of water.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Form the mixture into 12 small patties; when the oil is hot place enough patties in the skillet so that it is full, but the patties still have room in between them. Cover, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the bottoms are crisp and deeply browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second side for about 7 minutes more. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.

Cashew cream

Add all of the ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. Blend until the cashew cream is smooth and silky with no chunks. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Keep in mind that you can make the cashew cream in advance so it’s ready to serve when you’re done with the quinoa. After cooking up the quinoa cakes, serve immediately with the cashew cream. I served this crunch cabbage and cashew salad along with the cakes!

Serve with crunchy cabbage salad for a nice pairing!


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Crunchy cabbage and cashew salad with spicy peanut dressing

quinoa cakes

I normally don’t post a lot of salad recipes because I usually throw together whatever I have in the fridge, but this one is definitely worth sharing.  The cashews give it a nice crunch and goes really well with the dressing.

Stay tuned for the amazing quinoa cake recipe that is also in the picture. The two go together perfectly! I’ll post soon :)


For the salad:

  • 1 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1/2 small head red cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water


Combine the cabbages, carrots, snow peas, avocado and half the herbs in a large bowl.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl, adding more water to thin if necessary.

Toss the cabbage mixture with the peanut sauce and top with the reserved herbs, cashews and sesame seeds.

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Greek chicken salad

Greek salad

There are many things I love in this world. Two of those things are greek salad and chicken salad. Put them together? You’ve got one awesome combination. This is an easy recipe to make for lunches or for a quick dinner, and goes well on a sandwich or a bed of spinach.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it gets even better the second day once the herbs and flavors have a chance to sit. You can thank me later for introducing you to this recipe. :)


Greek chicken salad

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, chilled to cool and diced
  • 1  cucumber, diced
  • 3/4 cup sliced grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup diced Kalamata olives
  • 3 Tbsp sliced almonds (optional)


  • 1/2 cup non-fat or low-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, preferably fresh
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Greek chicken salad:

To a mixing bowl add, diced chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, red onion, Kalamata olives and sliced almonds. Add dressing and toss to evenly coat.

For the dressing:

In a mixing bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together to blend and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine dressing with chicken salad and serve over bread, rolls, salad, wraps, or in pita pockets.

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Quinoa “fried rice”

photo 1

Once again, I’ve neglected my blog due to other life events getting in the way! :/ A lot has happened since my last post. After coming back from Las Vegas work has kept me super busy, but then I got a week of relaxation in Mexico with Richard – all thanks to my grandparents who hosted us in their timeshare. Immediately after my vacation I moved into a new apartment with a new roomie! We’ve enjoyed cooking with each other, I just haven’t had a chance to share all the recipes.

One of the recipes I’ve made recently that really stood out to me was quinoa fried rice. I love quinoa and so I try incorporating it into my meal every week. When I saw this idea I knew I had to try it. You can really customize the recipe according to how much spice or protein you want, but I love all of the above, so I incorporated a lot of both!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Choice of protein like cooked and shredded chicken, or tofu
  • Sriracha and crushed red pepper, for serving


If using tofu, remove from package and drain water by pressing with paper towels. Shred the tofu and set aside. If using chicken, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and cook chicken breasts 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked all the way through.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add eggs and fry until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side, flipping only once. Let cool before dicing into small pieces.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions have become translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

Add broccoli. Cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Add corn, peas, carrots and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.

Add ginger and soy sauce, and gently toss to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Stir in green onions, eggs, salt, pepper and protein.

Serve immediately, drizzled with Sriracha and crushed red pepper, if desired.

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Roasted butternut squash salad with quinoa and avocado

butternut squash salad

Ready for the best salad recipe ever? No joke, this salad is packed with protein. Quinoa and spinach, with the sweetness of the butternut squash. The toasted squash seeds adds the nice crunch factor. I kinda threw this together because I had so much butternut squash and didn’t know what to do with it. But this salad did not disappoint!

  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half, remove the seeds and set aside. Cut the butternut squash into one-inch cubes. Grease a roasting pan, place the squash on the pan and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Place the butternut squash seeds in another roasting pan and put in the oven, but remove after 10 minutes.

Then prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Put 1 cup quinoa and two cups water in a pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare the dressing by mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, slice the avocado, and toss the spinach with the avocado, butternut squash and seeds.

I served with my favorite tilapia recipe and roasted cauliflower soup.

soup salad and tilapia

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Roasted cauliflower soup

cauliflower soup

I might have found the perfect soup. I’m not exaggerating. I have been eyeing this recipe for a while and don’t know why I never made it before. After getting back from a week in Las Vegas, I needed a light meal, full of veggies. It’s thick and creamy without being full of butter and cream. The fresh rosemary and thyme really make the soup something special. And it’s perfect for a cold January day. But even if you’re not big on veggies, you should try this soup!

  • 1 ( 1 1/2 pound ) head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves in the olive oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place on a large baking sheet, in a single layer. Roast the cauliflower until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onion and celery and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Chop up the roasted garlic. Add the garlic, roasted cauliflower, vegetable broth, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend the soup until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve warm. We like to serve the bread with crusty bread or homemade croutons.

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