Mexican-style Chicken-Quinoa-Bean Bake

A recipe on Pinterest inspired this recipe that includes homemade enchilada sauce This is definitely a healthy version of Mexican food, and quite tasty, too.

Mexican-style Chicken-Quinoa-Bean Bake 4+ servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa (white or red)  
1 to 1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 teaspoon onion or garlic salt
1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups Homemade Enchilada Sauce, or use a commercial brand 
1 ½ cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese — divided use
Sour cream for garnish, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Spray 2 to 3-quart capacity oven/broiler-proof baking dish with cooking spray, or use small baking dishes for individual servings.
  2. Heat large skillet or a Dutch-oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and onion; cook 5 minutes or until onion is soft.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add quinoa, chicken, black beans, green chiles, onion or garlic salt, and enough enchilada sauce to hold it together without being runny. Stir in ½ cup cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. Transfer mixture to baking dish(es). Top evenly with remaining cheese.
    Instead of making a large casserole, I divided the mixture among individual baking dishes.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes and then turn oven control to broil. Place baking dish about 5 inches from broiler; broil 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from broiler.
  6. Top with sour cream if desired.
    I served our individual casseroles with chopped iceberg lettuce, topped with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and black olives; the salad was drizzled with Ranch dressing.
Recipe without photos . . .
Mexican-style Chicken-Quinoa-Bean Bake 4+ servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa (white or red)  
1 to 1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 teaspoon onion or garlic salt
1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups Homemade Enchilada Sauce, or use a commercial brand  
1 ½ cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese — divided use
Sour cream for garnish, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Spray 2 to 3-quart capacity oven/broiler-proof baking dish with cooking spray, or use small baking dishes for individual servings.
  2. Heat large skillet or a Dutch-oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and onion; cook 5 minutes or until onion is soft.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add quinoa, chicken, black beans, green chiles, onion or garlic salt, and enough enchilada sauce to hold it together without being runny. Stir in ½ cup cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. Transfer mixture to baking dish(es). Top evenly with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes and then turn oven control to broil. Place baking dish about 5 inches from broiler; broil 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from broiler.
  6. Top with sour cream if desired.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce . . . uses everyday ingredients

Homemade Enchilada Sauce uses everyday ingredients and is easy to make. 
Note: This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a week; it also freezes well.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Makes about 1 ¾ cups

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups+ chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce (this is equivalent to an 8 oz. can)
  1. Over medium heat, combine oil with cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook for one minute.
  2. Whisk in the seasonings and tomato sauce; cook for another minute.
  3. Whisk in the broth and continue to cook about 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Add additional broth to thin if needed.
Recipe without photos . . .

Homemade Enchilada Sauce       Makes 1 ¾ to 2 cups
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups+ chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce (this is equivalent to an 8 oz. can)
  1. Over medium heat, combine oil with cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook for one minute.
  2. Whisk in the seasonings and tomato sauce; cook for another minute.
  3. Whisk in the broth and continue to cook about 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Add additional broth to thin if needed.                                                                      
Note: This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a week; it also freezes well.

Vegetarian Tacos . . . made with lentils

   
All the fixings for tacos + a side dish of Zucchini & Corn in the background.
     Our niece, Colette West, told us about this recipe some time ago. And, then I forgot about it until just recently. When she originally sent the recipe she mentioned that it could be modified to taste but I made it pretty much according to her instructions. I did use regular cheese and sour cream versus the fat-free products and provided some variables for the seasonings.
     Love the idea that the lentils can cook throughout the day in a slow cooker which is ideal for a busy schedule. I actually had time to cook them on the stovetop today but opted for the slow cooker version just so I could give it a try.

Lentil Tacos   Makes 6+ servings (ideal slow cooker-size: 4-quart)
Recipe Note -- the recipe calls for ½  lb. dry brown lentils; we had enough lentils to fill 10 taco shells and still had about three-fourths of a cup left over. 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ cup onions, finely chopped
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
½  lb. dry brown lentils (1 heaping cup), picked clean of stones and floaters   (l lb. lentils = 2 ¼ cups; 1 cup dry lentils = 2 to 2 ½ cups cooked)
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2+ cups chicken broth
About 1 cup salsa
-----
12 taco shells
Topping possibilities: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream,
additional salsa
  1. Heat oil in skillet or Dutch oven. Add onions and sprinkle with garlic powder; sauté until onions are tender.
  2. Add lentils and spices. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Place  lentil mixture and 2 cups broth in slow cooker. Add more broth as lentils cook if needed.
  4. Cover. Cook on LOW for 3 hours for somewhat-crunchy lentils, or on LOW for 6 hours for soft lentils. (Ours were perfectly cooked in about 4 hours in the slow cooker – they were soft but still held their shape giving them a mouth-free that is similar to meat.)

  5. Add as much salsa as desired.
  6. Spoon about ¼ cup into each taco shell. Add toppings of your choice.
Recipe without photos . . .
Lentil Tacos   Makes 6+ servings (ideal slow cooker-size: 4-quart)
Recipe Note -- the recipe calls for ½  lb. dry brown lentils; we had enough lentils to fill 10 taco shells and still had about three-fourths of a cup left over. 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¾ cup onions, finely chopped
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
½  lb. dry brown lentils (1 heaping cup), picked clean of stones and floaters   (l lb. lentils = 2 ¼ cups; 1 cup dry lentils = 2 to 2 ½ cups cooked)
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2+ cups chicken broth
About 1 cup salsa
-----
12 taco shells
Topping possibilities: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream,
additional salsa
  1. Heat oil in skillet or Dutch oven. Add onions and sprinkle with garlic powder; sauté until onions are tender.
  2. Add lentils and spices. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Place lentil mixture and 2 cups broth in slow cooker. Add more broth as lentils cook if needed.
  4. Cover. Cook on LOW for 3 hours for somewhat-crunchy lentils, or on LOW for 6 hours for soft lentils. (Ours were perfectly cooked in about 4 hours in the slow cooker – they were soft but still held their shape giving them a mouth-free that is similar to meat.)
  5. Add as much salsa as desired.
  6. Spoon about ¼ cup into each taco shell. Add toppings of your choice.

Calabacitas y Maiz — Zucchini & Corn

     
     When I interviewed Dennis Medina for my monthly cooking column in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle (1/30/07), he provided his grandmother's recipe for zucchini and corn. He makes it often and it is incredibly delicious, and easy, too. The following is what was include as the header for his recipe . . .
      Grandma Maes' name for this side dish is Calabacitas y Maize. Although this vegetable dish has its roots in Spanish and Mexican culture, it is very versatile and make a nice addition to almost any meal, especially egg dishes.
     Since I was just making this for two, I adjusted the amounts and didn't really worry about exact measurements.

Zucchini & Corn
4 to 6 cups zucchini sliced thin – about ⅛”
2 tablespoons oil (1 Tbsp. olive and 1 Tbsp. vegetable)
Pinch of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (or less)
¼ teaspoon crushed red chile
Whole kernel frozen corn — Dennis usually adds enough to equal approximately half the amount of squash
  1. Cook squash in oil on low to medium heat. 
  2. Add sugar, parsley, garlic powder, salt and red pepper.  Continue cooking squash until it’s translucent. 
  3. Add corn and heat through.
To access our other zucchini recipes, scroll down on the right side of this page until you locate LABELS  (our ingredient list), then scroll down to zucchini. Once you've clicked on it, part of our recipes for zucchini will show up; to see the rest, click on Older Posts at the bottom right of the last post that is visible.

Recipe without photos . . . 
Zucchini & Corn
4 to 6 cups zucchini sliced thin – about ⅛”
2 tablespoons oil (1 Tbsp. olive and 1 Tbsp. vegetable)
Pinch of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (or less)
¼ teaspoon crushed red chile
Whole kernel frozen corn — Dennis usually adds enough to equal approximately half the amount of squash
  1. Cook squash in oil on low to medium heat. 
  2. Add sugar, parsley, garlic powder, salt and red pepper.  Continue cooking squash until it’s translucent. 
  3. Add corn and heat through.

Zucchini Pancakes — plain or topped with an egg

  
     Another recipe in our zucchini quest—this one (with an added egg) would be great for breakfast or brunch but we actually prepared it for dinner/supper.
     Although there are all sorts of jokes about an over abundance of squash, in the past few years the squash bugs have overtaken our crops. We’ve sprayed with chemicals, used herbal remedies, planted marigolds among the squash and any number of other tricks—all to no avail.
     However this year I’ve discovered the secret (knock on wood)—each day I carefully turn over the leaves of the plants; if I find “eggs” I remove that particular leaf and take it to the trash. Any bugs that are lurking nearby are squished! So far, so good but I must say it is hard work trying to wage war with bugs that multiply very quickly. However, I still have new recipes to try . . . so looks like the war with continue for a while.
Our squash plants.
The culprits - in egg form!
Zucchini Pancakes topped with eggs and salsa
About 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini – shredded with skin on but any larger-sized seeds removed
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 egg
½ cup of grated cheese (I used Cheddar but just about any should work)
¼ to ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons+ seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 ground black pepper
-----
Pan spray for griddle
-----
Fried eggs
Chopped garden tomatoes & peppers, or try using salsa
  1. Mix together the onions, egg and cheese. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in minimum amounts of dry ingredients. If the batter seems thin, add more flour and/or breadcrumbs.

  2. Heat a griddle (or could use a large skillet) that has been spritzed with pan spray.
  3. When the griddle is hot, add scoops of zucchini batter; cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Continue until all batter has been used.

  4. To keep warm: Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and place in a warm oven. 
  5. To serve with an egg — add egg on top of a pancake and garnish with chopped tomatoes and peppers or salsa.
To access our other zucchini recipes, scroll down on the right side of this page until you locate LABELS  (our ingredient list), then scroll down to zucchini. Once you've clicked on it, part of our recipes for zucchini will show up; to see the rest, click on Older Posts at the bottom right of the last post that is visible.

Recipe without photos . . .
Zucchini Pancakes topped with eggs and salsa
About 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini – shredded with skin on but any larger-sized seeds removed
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 egg
½ cup of grated cheese (I used Cheddar but just about any should work)
¼ to ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons+ seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 ground black pepper
-----
Pan spray for griddle
-----
Fried eggs
Chopped garden tomatoes & peppers, or try using salsa
  1. Mix together the onions, egg and cheese. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in minimum amounts of dry ingredients. If the batter seems thin, add more flour and/or breadcrumbs.
  2. Heat a griddle (or could use a large skillet) that has been spritzed with pan spray.
  3. When the griddle is hot, add scoops of zucchini batter; cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Continue until all batter has been used.
  4. To keep warm: Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and place in a warm oven. 
  5. To serve with an egg — add egg on top of a pancake and garnish with chopped tomatoes and peppers or salsa.

Smashed Fried Okra — eating from the garden


     My mom gave me a magazine clipping for this recipe. It called for a pound of okra. Yes, we have a pound of okra (our plants are prolific) but there is no way that Barry and I can eat a pound of fried okra! 
     In addition to the pound of okra, the recipe called for  1 ½ cups of buttermilk, 2 cups of cornmeal + salt & pepper. I didn’t measure—fried okra is one of those no-measure type of dishes in my estimation!
     Smashed okra—it’s much quicker to prepare than the traditional sliced okra; because it’s not cut, it does not “slime,” and it’s much easier to eat.

Smashed Fried Okra
Small, tender okra – the smaller the better
Buttermilk
Cornmeal
Kosher salt
Coarse black pepper
Canola oil with a spoonful or two of bacon grease if you have it
Optional Sauce — mayonnaise (olive oil based, preferred) mixed with a liberal sprinkling of coarse black pepper & a dash of hot sauce.
  1. Use a meat mallet to smash the okra.
  2. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish; place cornmeal in another shallow dish and mix in a dash or so of salt and pepper.
  3. Dip okra in buttermilk and then drop in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess.
  4. Add about 1 ½ to 2” of oil to a skillet on medium high heat. When a drop of cornmeal sizzles, add the okra. Fry in batches, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crisp.
  5. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve with mayonnaise flavored with a liberal sprinkling of pepper and a dash of hot sauce.

OTHER OKRA RECIPES on our blog:
Tomato Okra Casserole  -- this is one of our favorite summertime recipes!

Recipe without photos . . .

Smashed Fried Okra
Small, tender okra – the smaller the better
Buttermilk
Cornmeal
Kosher salt
Coarse black pepper
Canola oil with a spoonful or two of bacon grease if you have it
Optional Sauce — mayonnaise (olive oil based, preferred) mixed with a liberal sprinkling of coarse black pepper & a dash of hot sauce.
  1. Use a meat mallet to smash the okra.
  2. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish; place cornmeal in another shallow dish and mix in a dash or so of salt and pepper.
  3. Dip okra in buttermilk and then drop in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess.
  4. Add about 1 ½ to 2” of oil to a skillet on medium high heat. When a drop of cornmeal sizzles, add the okra. Fry in batches, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crisp.
  5. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve with mayonnaise flavored with a liberal sprinkling of pepper and a dash of hot sauce.