a balanced plate with room for dessert


Chipotle Quinoa Chili


This chili is a breeze to throw together. It’s an easy one-pot meal that takes no time to cook. Instead of making a frozen pizza or grabbing fast food, put this chili into your weeknight menu rotation. It’s packed full of good-for-you quinoa, beans, and veggies and a small bowl will keep you full for a long time.


Chipotle Quinoa Chili |

Chipotle Quinoa Chili

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
3 – 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with chiles
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
optional toppings: cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  2. Stir in chili powder and cumin and cook for a minute. Stir in chiles, tomatoes, beans, bell peppers, corn, and quinoa. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes or until quinoa is tender, stirring once or twice.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in green onions. Top with your favorite chili toppings and enjoy!


recipe from Alida’s Kitchen, originally from Kraft 

1 Comment

SNAP Challenge: Day 1

Today’s prompt from Feeding America: “What have you cut out of your routine to stay on budget (e.g. COFFEE)?”

On paper, I thought that little had changed in our routine. After a half day, I knew things were different.

I didn’t have snacks to munch on when I got hungry or a little bored. I’m used to being able to whip up a batch of kettle corn if I craved something crunchy. This week, I can’t do that.  Mike’s used to having his morning (and afternoon and evening) coffee. This week, he gave it up and got tea instead since it’s a lot cheaper. My lactose intolerance was already hard for me to deal with since it’s so new. This week, I couldn’t fit almond milk or lactose-free cheese into the budget.

Our first day of the SNAP Challenge was already… well, a challenge. We did all our grocery shopping on Friday and planned to start the SNAP Challenge on Saturday. I didn’t sleep well that night. I had dreams about not having enough food for the week.

Breakfast for me was some oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar and raisins and Mike had some whole wheat toast with peanut butter. We both had some tea and water with our meal.

Mike’s dad came in to town to visit and we went off to the farmer’s market with him. I always love going to the market, but this visit was a little less enjoyable – I couldn’t buy any of the fruits or veggies that looked good. I couldn’t give in to the freshly-baked breads. I instantly regretted spending all my money already, but I knew it was a smart move – buying food from the farmer’s market is way more expensive than buying it at Aldi.

By the time Mike and I got home, we were hungry. We didn’t have anything to snack on,  so Mike drank tea while I threw together lunch (and dinner) as quickly as possible.

I had decided that chili would be a great meal to make during this week. I stretched the turkey by adding in lots of beans and I used simple ingredients to cut down on cost. I’m used to eating “chili seven ways” aka chili with elbow mac, cheese, olives, onions, sour cream, hot sauce, and Fritos. I obviously couldn’t afford to buy Fritos and olives to use as a garnish for one meal , so those were nixed. My main attraction to this chili was that I knew it would reheat wonderfully for lunch during the week (if it lasts that long…)

The chili was hearty and delicious. We ate it with elbow mac for lunch and then had it over a baked potato for dinner to switch it up a little.

Three Bean Turkey Chili |

Three Bean Turkey Chili

1 pound turkey
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 ounce can black beans, drained
15 ounce can kidney beans, drained
30 ounce can pinto beans, drained
2 quarts tomatoes, diced
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprkia
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni

garnishes – 
light sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. Heat a large non-stick pot over medium-high heat. Place turkey in pot and cook until browned. Drain off excess fat. Stir in onion and garlic and cook until onions are tender.
  2. Pour in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer chili for 30 minutes.
  3. While chili is cooking, cook elbow macaroni according to package directions.
  4. Place a serving of macaroni in a bowl and top with a scoop of chili,. Garnish with sour cream, green onions, and cheddar cheese.

1 Comment

Israeli Couscous Salad

Ah yes, another couscous salad. As much as I loved this recipe with grilled vegetables, I wanted to try something else. I wasn’t quite sure what to make, and I really didn’t want to go to the grocery store. I used this as an opportunity to use up some pantry and fridge items. Mostly, I wanted to get rid of the million limes I had left over from Mike’s birthday bash.

Have I mentioned that I love Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous?! Come to think of it, the chickpeas and olive oil were also from Trader Joe’s. I should just name this Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous Salad!

See? I wasn’t kidding…

For being as random as this dish is, it turned out pretty darn tasty. I love that it requires so little cooking. I have 2 more boxes of couscous left and I really want to make more of this salad. But the thought of using up more of this couscous makes me want to cry. It’s hard to use up “valuable” food when you have to travel 2 hours to get more. Why oh why can’t we have a TJ’s in Appleton!?

Israeli Couscous Salad
serves 4

1 box Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced
3 limes, juiced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in couscous and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until couscous is lightly browned.
  2. Add in vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Toss cooled couscous with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight, if possible. Serve cold.


Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn

This was my first time cooking with quinoa. It was surprisingly good and this meal was so easy to make! The quinoa was served with some chicken on the side.

Quinoa with black beans and corn

Quinoa with Black Beans and Corn

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (you can add more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
1 cup frozen corn
2 15 oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned. Season the onions with the cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes or until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

If you’re wondering what to do with all that extra cilantro, try this cilantro dip!